SBD/Issue 38/Collegiate Sports

College Soccer Games Drawing Big Crowds As Sport Grows In U.S.

UC Santa Barbara Game In September
Set On-Campus Attendance Record

A “symbol of soccer’s continuing emergence” in the U.S. is the “surging attendance at college games,” according to Andrew Keh of the N.Y. TIMES. Eye-catching figures are "popping up across the country for men’s games." Soccer America magazine last week reported that “35 men’s teams in Division I were drawing more than 1,000 fans a game this year, eight more teams” than in '09. Last season “only two teams had average attendances above 2,500; eight teams are drawing at least that many this season.” And this year, “each of the top 20 colleges in average attendance is attracting more fans per game than last season.” UC Santa Barbara is “leading the swell.” The school "drew a crowd of 15,896 to Harder Stadium, its home field, for a game against UCLA” on Sept. 24. It was the "largest regular-season college soccer crowd since 1980 and the largest soccer crowd over all for an on-campus stadium." UC Santa Barbara AD Mark Massari said that schools are “beginning to reap the benefits this season of a number of factors, including aggressive marketing, outreach to local youth programs and the entrenchment of teams into their communities.” Keh notes California Polytechnic State Univ. has “drawn crowds of more than 8,000 twice this season.” Also, Maryland's home game against Duke last month was played in front of 7,260 spectators, and Ohio State “set a university record when it drew 7,255 fans for its game against Akron in September.” The Univ. of South Carolina is “averaging 2,051 fans this year after drawing just 726 a game last season.” South Carolina AD Eric Hyman said college students “understand it better than the older generations, who can’t relate to soccer the way they can” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/3).

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