Winning on the field is only part of the equation when it comes to hosting an NCAA baseball regional.

You also have to be able to, well, host.

Kentucky’s baseball team earned that right this year. The Wildcats are 36-18 with the No. 2 RPI in the country. And it’s not just a byproduct of playing in the SEC. Kentucky’s nonconference strength of schedule is 9th in the country.

The City of Lexington, on the other hand, has no business hosting an NCAA baseball regional this weekend. It is unable to house the 3 teams playing in Kentucky’s regional, which should be an automatic disqualifier for submitting a regional bid in the first place.

There are no hotel vacancies in Lexington this weekend, or even within an hour of Lexington. That’s because Red Mile Racecourse is hosting the Railbird Music Festival.

With the lineup that’s scheduled to play, it’s easy to see why that’s going to be the case. (In my esteemed musical opinion, anyway.)

But for that very reason, Lexington should have been excluded as a potential regional host.

It’s not like a music festival just popped up out of nowhere like a spring thunderstorm. This was on the radar. The Railbird Music Festival is in Year 3 of its existence.

And because it was somehow overlooked or otherwise disregarded, Kentucky finds itself in an embarrassing situation.

Welcome back to dorm life

Every other team traveling to an NCAA regional this week will stay at a hotel. Ball State, Indiana and West Virginia get the extraordinary privilege of staying in University of Kentucky dorm rooms. (Well, the NCAA told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Tuesday that Kentucky reserved 3 hotels in Louisville, more than an hour away, if teams prefer to stay there.)

Nothing beats coming home from a long day at the ballpark and hitting the hay on an extra-firm twin mattress. (Actually, a hay bale might actually be more comfortable.)

As with anything, there’s also a glass half-full way to look at things.

Dorm rooms will probably be good for team bonding. They don’t have bunk beds in hotels. Here, players will be able to recreate the bunk scene from Step Brothers. And you can’t put a price on that level of team chemistry.

Also, athletes feed on disrespect. Even when it doesn’t exist, like when Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith spent the season claiming there were people who said the Bulldogs would go 7-5 last season. Smith made all of it up to fire up his teammates — and it worked.

Here, nobody has to feign the feeling of disrespect. It’s all happening in very plain sight.

Kentucky has assured the NCAA that the dorms are apartment style with 24-hour service, according to the Herald-Leader. But even if the accommodations are spartan, at least players and coaches are close enough to walk to the ballpark. The much greater disrespect is being shown to the players’ families.

Ball State hasn’t played in the NCAA Tournament since 2006. West Virginia is making its 3rd appearance since 1996. Indiana is back in the field for the first time since 2019. This isn’t a regular enough occurrence for families to say, “Well son, we’ll catch your games when you get back next year!”

To a much lesser extent, the same is true of the media traveling to cover these programs. A 2-hour round-trip commute does not exactly fit into the category of “reasonable accommodations.” Undoubtedly, some editor’s eyes will pop out when reviewing the expense report for mileage reimbursement.

But that’s merely a professional inconvenience. Families and ordinary fans have a legitimate beef here. Attending a regional should not include an added degree of difficulty.

What can Kentucky or the NCAA do?

There is something unfair about the prospect of not allowing the No. 12 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament to host a regional. These are circumstances beyond the control of Kentucky baseball.

But history has shown it’s not just about the team. You have to have the facilities.

In 2012, Purdue was a regional host but did not have a suitable field to do so. In order to make it work, the NCAA allowed the Boilers to host at a minor league stadium in Gary — some 90 miles from campus.

If you have the facilities but nowhere to put the people who plan on attending the games, the same logic should apply.

Both sides may cringe at the notion for rivalry reasons, but there’s a Triple-A ballpark in Louisville that would be suitable for such a task. It’s not available this weekend since the Bats are in town, but NCAA regionals are always the weekend following Memorial Day. Perhaps UK and the Bats could arrange a contingency plan in the future.

There’s also a 4,500-seat Frontier League ballpark in Florence that seems capable of hosting in a pinch.

Both locations are about 70 miles from Lexington.

Or perhaps an arrangement could be worked out with organizers of the Railbird Festival. It’s a long summer. But music festivals are also on a pretty fixed schedule. And given the economic impact of tens of thousands of people showing up from out of town, a deal with that event may prove much harder to swing.

Kentucky deserves some credit for finding a solution to an issue that was not of its own creation. However, it is a highly imperfect solution. And it’s one that the NCAA needs to avoid repeating.

If there’s no room for visitors in Lexington, then it’s the Wildcats who should be hitting the road. No matter whether their record says otherwise.