SBD/January 9, 2013/Research and Ratings

College Bowl Season Has Lowest Attendance In More Than 30 Years

College football bowl attendance for ’12-13 “reached its lowest average in more than 30 years,” according to Jon Solomon of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. Reported attendance at this season's 35 bowls averaged 49,224, down 2% from a year ago and marking the “lowest average since 1978-79, when 15 bowls averaged 48,404 fans.” Bowl attendance “decreased for the third straight season” and is down 7% since ‘09-10. Eighteen of this year's 35 bowls “experienced attendance increases.” Football Bowl Association Exec Dir Wright Waters said that “declining attendance should not be viewed as a failed bowl season.” Waters: “Attendance is not the only factor in success. You can have a very successful bowl and not have a sellout because every bowl has a different charge from their local committee." Solomon noted that “no conference is immune from smaller crowds.” The Discover Orange Bowl's announced crowd of 72,023 for Florida State-Northern Illinois “was higher than each of the past three years.” But it was “still smaller than all of its games” from ’01-09 (AL.com, 1/8).

COLLEGE BOWL SEASON ATTENDANCE TREND
SEASON
BOWLS
TOTAL
AVERAGE
'12-13
35
1,722,834
49,224
'11-12
35
1,765,224
50,435
'10-11
35
1,813,205
51,806
'09-10
35
1,769,857
50,567
'08-09
34
1,755,876
51,643
'07-08
32
1,733,490
54,172
'06-07
32
1,697,262
53,039
'05-06
27
1,479,750
54,806
       

RECORD SETTERS: Three bowls saw all-time highs in attendance this season. Louisiana-Lafayette’s win over ECU in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl saw a record crowd for the second straight season. The BBVA Compass Bowl also saw a record crowd for Ole Miss-Pitt, and despite snowy conditions, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium had its best crowd in its three-year existence. Four bowls saw record lows this season, including the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (blizzard in Detroit), Gildan New Mexico Bowl and Military Bowl. The San Jose State-Bowling Green matchup in the Military Bowl marked the lowest crowd for any bowl in seven years, dating back to the ’05 Hawaii Bowl. The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl had its lowest mark since ’97, while the Hyundai Sun Bowl had its lowest crowd since ’01. The Louisville-Florida Allstate Sugar Bowl drew 54,178 fans, the game’s lowest draw since ’39. Meanwhile, the AT&T Cotton Bowl had its second-best crowd and Valero Alamo Bowl had its fourth-best mark (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

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