Illinois Looks To Winning, Amenities To Cure Football Attendance Woes
The Univ. of Illinois football team this season "has averaged an announced attendance of 45,116, ninth in the Big Ten and on pace for its lowest average since 2006," according to Colleen Kane of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Kane notes empty seats at kickoff "have been commonplace in three home games, not an altogether new trend at Illinois." Actual attendance averaged "at least 10,000 fewer per game than the announced figures at a stadium with a capacity of 60,670." Attendance "became a hot button issue" for AD Mike Thomas when "figures declined in coach Ron Zook's final season." The early '12 numbers "don't speak well for interest in a new program that already has two ugly losses." Thomas made it clear that "winning is the only real cure to attendance woes, which probably won't be helped this season by the lack of big-draw opponents." Thomas said that the school has "implemented strategies to alleviate the problem, which Thomas said "has been marked by lower student and young alumni numbers this season." The school brought back "Street Fest before games and staged a country music concert before the Louisiana Tech game." Thomas also "pointed to a $6.7 million scoreboard and sound system for next season." But Kane writes the scoreboard "will do little to cure fan apathy" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/28).