SBD/September 14, 2017/Colleges

Duke Football Attendance Struggles Continue Despite On-Field Success, Stadium Upgrades

Duke drew 30,477 for its 60-7 season-opening win over N.C. Central on Sept. 2
Despite the Duke football team's "improved play on the field over the previous five seasons" and Wallace Wade Stadium's three-year, $100M renovation, home crowds this year "remain among the ACC’s worst," according to Steve Wiseman of the Durham HERALD-SUN. Duke drew 30,477 for its 60-7 season-opening win over N.C. Central on Sept. 2, its "annual employee appreciation night." Free tickets were "available to the about 37,000 people who work at the school and hospital system." The school’s "announced crowd for Saturday’s 41-17 win over Northwestern was 20,241." Last season, Duke "averaged 29,895 per game," marking its "best season at the box office during its five-year run of successful seasons" that started in '12. But that left Duke "next to last in attendance in the ACC only ahead of Wake Forest (26,456)." Duke coach David Cutcliffe is "happy with the fans that come," but he would "like to see more." Cutcliffe: "We are always seeking bigger crowds. Like most institutions our size we’d love to have 50,000 people in there." Wiseman noted Duke’s largest crowds last season were against Virginia Tech (38,217) and North Carolina (39,212) when opposing fans "were out [in] large force." Because it is a "small private school," Duke tries to "turn Durham residents into season-ticket holders." The slogan "Bull City pride" is the "main theme of Duke’s marketing campaign." Those living in the city of Durham’s zip code that starts with 277 can get "four season tickets and T-shirts for $277." Duke Dir of Football Marketing & Promotions Chris Alston said that campaign has "exceeded sales expectations" (Durham HERALD-SUN, 9/13).

OPPOSITE END OF THE SPECTRUM: Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder said that the school is "on the brink of achieving a season-ticket sales total of 50,000" for only the "second time in school history." He added the possibility of breaking the '13 school record of 50,223 is "getting more realistic every day." In Tulsa, Bill Haisten notes there is also the "possibility, if not the likelihood, that there will be several sellouts at 56,790-seat Boone Pickens Stadium" this season. There was already one "sellout crowd" for the Aug. 31 season-opening victory over the Univ. of Tulsa. Haisten also notes "each of Boone Pickens Stadium’s 123 luxury suites has been sold." And about 40% of OSU athletic department’s operating budget of $76M comes from the "sales of football tickets and suites" (TULSA WORLD, 9/14).
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