SEC Schools Getting Creative To Combat CFB Attendance Decline
The SEC "isn't immune to a national trend of falling attendance" at college football games, and like other schools around the country, SEC programs are "trying to do something about it," according to David Brandt of the AP. SEC schools are "using tactics they feel appeal to their respective fan bases." Mississippi State recently "slashed concession prices, Ole Miss unveiled a new mascot named 'Landshark Tony' to try and connect with kids and LSU has added 'The Chute,' which is a 21-and-older section that offers premium food and drinks." The SEC saw a "drop of more than 2,400 fans per game last season, which was the biggest decline of any Power Five conference." The entire FBS lost an "average of about 1,400 fans per game" in '17. The 14 teams in the SEC "draw an average of about 75,000 fans per game, or nearly 10,000 more than the nearest league." SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said, "It's not a sky is falling situation." However, Sankey acknowledged that it is a "good time for schools to be proactive when addressing last year's decline." Mississippi State AD John Cohen said that he "doesn't necessarily expect the school to lose revenue from the cheaper concession' prices because the hope is volume will increase." Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork is doing a "number of things to make sure fans want to come inside the stadium," as fans sometimes "choose to stay in the area called The Grove instead of coming inside" Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (AP, 9/12).
DOWN & DISTANCE: Lead1 Association President & CEO Tom McMillen said there are several factors to declining attendance, including "inconvenient, week night games, lesser quality opponents and television." Lead1 is the former D1A Athletic Directors' Association, and McMillen said college football is "more available to multimedia consumers than ever before." McMillen: "Not only is practically every major college football game televised, they're also often streamed on the internet making them available to anyone who has a mobile phone." Generation Z has shown an "unwillingness to attend games and watch broadcasts unless it's on their cellphone." Declining attendance can also be attributed to "ticket and concession costs, game length, and the hassle factor of parking, traffic and the like." McMillen: "For a better in-game experience, many of our schools are … lowering concession costs or adding unique features. It's happening everywhere in the FBS from our Group of Five schools to the Autonomy Five schools" (YOUTUBE.com, 9/12).