SBD/August 29, 2013/College Football Preview

Colorado-Colorado State Matchup In Denver Facing Years Of Declining Attendance

Rocky Mountain Showdown crowds have steadily declined since a peak in '03
The Colorado-Colorado State Rocky Mountain Showdown rivalry game will need a "major walk-up crowd ... to avoid big empty patches" at Sports Authority Field At Mile High on Sunday, according to John Henderson of the DENVER POST. The game drew 76,036 fans when it "first went to Denver" in '98, and the series "peaked in 2003 with 76,219." However, attendance "has steadily declined" since then, and a "record low could be set" on Sunday. CU as of noon Tuesday had sold 29,097 tickets, including 5,302 student tickets, the "slowest sales it has ever had for the Showdown." CSU as of Tuesday had "sold 18,700 tickets, 6,400 for students." New CU AD Rick George said that he will "see how Sunday's game is aesthetically and economically before discussing a move back to a campus venue." The game is contracted for Denver through '19, and "any change George wants, CSU will likely oppose." Much of the drop in attendance in recent years "can be attributed to a drop in the quality of the programs" (DENVER POST, 8/28).

STAY THE COURSE: CSU AD Jack Graham said that declining attendance is "no reason ... to jump ship and move the game back to the respective campuses." Visit Denver VP/Marketing & Business Development Justin Bresler said that event organizer Denver Sports "couldn’t even get a title sponsor" for this year’s game to replace Cinch Jeans after its two-year deal expired. Bresler "wouldn’t say what title sponsorship cost but admitted it represented a 'significant amount' of lost revenue for Denver Sports, which helps organize the event, and the two schools." Graham: "You don’t make decisions to discontinue business activities on the back of down cycles and on the back of emotion, and right now we’re in that cycle" (COLORADOAN, 8/28).

CHANNEL SURFING: In Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote of the CU-CSU game airing on CBSSN, "The expanding cable sports world doesn't always provide better coverage for local viewers." Dish and DirecTV subscribers "need a higher-tiered package to get the game," so "many customers will be out of luck when it comes to comfortable home viewing." Saunders: "In the 'good old days' the annual game was aired on basic cable -- Fox Sports Net (now Root Sports)." The broadcast team will feature Dave Ryan and a "pair of relatively unknowns -- Adam Archuleta and Evan Washburn -- who are not exactly Colorado broadcasting household names" (DENVER POST, 8/26).
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