Hotel industry worried about UK football plans, Keeneland and more

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — Will UK football play this fall?

It’s what everyone wants to know.

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UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart is hopeful, saying they’re trying really hard to find a path forward.

If fall sports don’t happen the financial consequences could be big.

The Bluegrass Hospitality Group has been saying ‘let’s just get to fall, let’s just get to fall’ but not knowing what the fall will look like especially in terms of sports is causing some serious concern.

“It’s become very apparent that fall isn’t going to be the great savior that we thought it would be,” says Pam Avery, general manager at Embassy Suites Lexington Green and president of the Bluegrass Hospitality Group.

And hotels need a savior. When the pandemic first hit, Avery says they took a 90-95% loss in revenue.

“I’ve been doing this a really long time and I’ve never seen anything like April before,” says Avery.

Business is a little better since then but still down as much as 70%.

Avery says they’ve gone from almost 80 employees to 16 now.

“Never seen an impact so sudden, so drastic, and there’s no light,” says Avery.

If fall activities don’t happen UK football or other college sports, Keeneland, or Breeders Cup, Avery says the hotel industry could suffer an 80% revenue loss.

“We’re obviously all sitting on large pieces of land with property taxes and mortgages like everybody else,” says Avery.

That financial loss could result in hotels having to cut back even more.

“We’re in a business that usually we have a lot of fun and I gotta tell you this is not fun,” Avery jokes.

But she says this will pass and fun will happen again.

Visit Lex President Mary Quinn Ramer says without fall sporting events, restaurants, transportation and retail also will take big hits.

And that doesn’t include UK itself, which has more than 250 people in the athletic department alone whose jobs could be at stake.

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Christy Bollinger joined the ABC 36 news team as a reporter in March 2018. Christy comes from a little western Kentucky town called Cadiz. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May 2017 with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Criminology. Christy is thrilled to be working at her dream job in her home state. She is passionate about storytelling and you can see her weekdays on ABC 36 News at 5 and 6 p.m. She's covered everything from visits from the sitting president and vice president, to high-profile murder cases. When not chasing stories, Christy loves nothing more than being at the beach and says life is just better with sand between your toes and waves crashing at your feet. She is also a big animal lover. She's a fur momma and her mini-Australian Shepherd, Milly, standard Australian Shepherd, Bennie, and her Maine Coon, Cheeto, are the loves of her life. Christy encourages you to send her any story ideas you may have. Find her on Facebook at Christy Bollinger ABC 36, tweet her @ChristyB_news, or email her at CBollinger@wtvq.com.