SBD/December 11, 2012/Colleges

FBS Attendance Drops For Second Straight Year To Lowest Average Since '03 Season

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Regular-season attendance at FBS schools "dipped to 45,274 fans per game in 2012, the lowest average since 2003," according to Jon Solomon of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. FBS crowds "declined for the second straight season," and five of the six BCS conferences "experienced lower averages in 2012." College football "still drew 35.3 million fans into stadiums and remains one of America's most popular sports." But the average regular-season attendance "has decreased 3 percent since peaking at 46,739 in 2008." Fifty-six percent of the FBS schools "reported fewer fans in 2012 than the previous season." Some of those dips were "very minor," but eight BCS schools "experienced attendance declines of 10 percent or greater from 2011." Five of the nation's top 20 attendance leaders "experienced noticeable declines, led by 5-percent drops at Penn State and Tennessee." The SEC "continued to lead the nation at 75,444 fans per game, but that was its lowest average since 2007." SEC crowds are "down 2 percent since peaking in 2008 at 76,844." The Big Ten "averaged 70,387 fans per game in 2012, its lowest since 2008." The Big 12 experienced its "smallest average (58,712) since 2005." The Pac-12 with a 53,586 average was "the only BCS conference with an increase." But that was "largely due to California returning to its renovated stadium after playing last season in a smaller stadium." The Pac-12 average "has declined 8 percent since setting a record in 2007." The ACC's average crowd of 49,544 was "its smallest in 12 years and down 11 percent since 2004." Solomon noted college football "could get a jolt in attendance once the four-team playoff starts in 2014, depending on how schools and conferences choose to adapt." The chart below lists the biggest gains and declines among FBS schools from '11 to '12 (AL.com, 12/10).

'12 FBS ATTENDANCE (BIGGEST GAINS, LARGEST DECLINES)
SCHOOL
AVG. ATTENDANCE
1-YR % +/-
Louisiana-Monroe
24,981
+61%
Kent State
17,880
+54%
Nevada
23,432
+49%
Cal*
55,876
+48%
TCU*
46,047
+37%
San Jose State
10,789
-41%
Akron
9,275
-41%
UNLV
15,208
-28%
Western Michigan
14,579
-27%
Buffalo
13,242
-27%
 

NOTE: * = Played at renovated stadium this season.

DOWNSIZED DOGHOUSE: In Seattle, Bob Condotta wrote there were “extenuating circumstances” for the Univ. of Washington’s 6% decline in attendance this year, “as it played the season at CenturyLink Field while Husky Stadium was renovated.” CenturyLink is “a little smaller, with a listed capacity of 68,000 compared to the 72,500 of the old Husky Stadium.” Condotta: “It's hard to know exactly how much playing off-campus at the CLink impacted attendance, though I'm sure it did a little bit” (SEATTLETIMES.com, 12/10).

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