Friday, January 18, 2008

Attendance: Kings, Laggards and Trends

The 2007 stadium attendance figures are out, and we here at Saurian Sagacity will break it down for you.

When looking at attendance, the figure that most intrigues me is the “Percent of Capacity” figure. We all know what the largest stadiums are, which varies little from year to year. What does change is the percentage of fans that fill those stadiums. And while some of that change is directly attributable to program success, some schools stalwartly maintain a high level of attendance year after year regardless of wins and losses.

The Kings

By percentage of capacity, the schools that filled their entire stadiums (or better) in 2007 were (with percentage of stated capacity)-

1. Oregon 108.97%
2. Nebraska 104.24%
3. Rutgers 103.96%
4. Wake Forest 103.48%
5. Oklahoma 103.34%
6. Ohio St. 102.72%
7. Michigan 102.57%
8. Florida 102.08%
9. Tennessee 101.84%
10. Navy 101.81%
11. Kentucky 101.8%
12. Wisconsin 101.78%
13. Penn St. 101.52%
14. Boise St. 101.13%
15. LSU 101.11%
16. Florida St. 100.75%
17. Brigham Young 100.71%
18. West Virginia 100.67%
19. Notre Dame 100.03%
20. Texas 100.02%
21. Alabama 100%
21. Georgia 100%
21. Iowa 100%
21. Virginia Tech 100%

By major conference, teams filling their stadiums for every game –

SEC – 6 (50%)
Big 10 – 5 (45.5%)
Big 12 – 3 (25%)
ACC – 3 (25%)
Big East – 2 (25%)
Pac 10 – 1 (10%)

The Laggards

Those sorry spectacles of empty seats in 2007 were –

1 Rice 19.08%
2 UAB 20.11%
3 Eastern Mich. 22.55%
4 Kent St. 29.48%
5 Tulane 37.43%
6 Temple 42.11%
7 Utah St. 43.4%
8 Buffalo 45.23%
9 Akron 45.69%
10 New Mexico St. 47.5%

This group sees far more fan faces when they are on the road playing as someone’s homecoming opponent. And Rice, at 19% - why even bother with a football program?

The Trends

We looked back to 2000 attendance records to see those schools which have had the most change in percentage of fans attending. The list is mostly unsurprising and linked heavily to recent success. Top schools in positive change in attendance since 2000 (with percent increase) are -

1 Rutgers 44.79%
2 Cincinnati 36.3%
3 Stanford 34.24%
4 Maryland 33.27%
5 Southern California 32.76%
6 Kansas 28.76%
7 Wake Forest 28.56%
8 Arkansas 26.24%
9 Oregon 25.46%
10 California 25.22%

USC is surprising to me on this list for two reasons. First, although they were relatively unsuccessful in 2000, to have only 62.32% percentage of capacity in attendance for such a historically high profile program (their 2000 figure) is pretty poor. Second, USC currently has a percentage of capacity attendance of 95.08%, placing them 40th nationally and behind teams like Connecticut and Eastern Carolina.

In contrast, even at the low point of the Zook years (2004), Florida was at 99.84% - still significantly better than the Trojans are presently.

On the other side, there are schools with a negative trend in attendance since 2000. Most names are unintuitive (Toledo? Army?), but some are not that surprising -

1 Idaho -33.59%
2 Toledo -31.3%
3 Utah St. -22.4%
4 Army -21.63%
5 Northwestern -20.54%
6 Miami (Fla.) -20.52%
7 Colorado -20.35%
8 Western Mich. -18.37%
9 Syracuse -16.26%
10 Ohio -15.55%

In 2007 the Hurricanes posted a downright pitiful 60.27% percentage of capacity attendance record, between Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee State nationally. It’s going to be even worse in Dolphin Stadium. (Yet, it is almost equally shocking they managed only an 80.79% in 2000 – the year they won a big, fake national title).

Finally, we have the stalwarts, or those programs with at or near (99%+) full percentage of capacity both in 2000 and 2007 –

Notre Dame

Florida, alas, was only 96.28% in 2000.


Ken said...

Very interesting... One comparison that I'd like to see is the comparison of stadium capacity to student enrollment/student ticket availability. For instance, if Wake Forest has about 6700 students and a stadium that holds 32,000 versus enrollment of 50,000 and a stadium of 100,000 - seems the WFU stat would be more impressive because of the "effort" of non-students to show up, etc....

Henry Gomez said...

While, intriguing the Percent of capacity measure is hard to swallow without context.

USC for example plays in cavernous stadium that wasn't built for them. Likewise with Miami. Both are small private schools. Some schools have stadiums that are too small for their fanbase.

Mergz said...


At least you didn't evoke the "but we are in cities with so much else to do" argument on Miami/USC's behalf.

I don't think merely showing raw numbers tells much, but further analysis based on Ken's question and your concerns may be merited. Next week, that is.

jimmyj said...


"Most names are unintuitive (Toledo?)"

LOL unintuitive? maybe not easily graspable for you but it wasn't but a few years ago when in Toledo on a Tuesday night at "Arnies Saloon" you could pull up a chair for the WSPD radio broadcast of "coaches corner." I can remember many nights asking questions and spilling beers with the likes of the now Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and later the Rocket rival (a couple miles down US75) the Falcon's coach Urban Meyer. You just knew back then these Ohio boys were headed big time, so hey, maybe it will take some time for the stadium attendance to top those years. Get the picture now?

SMQ said...

Miami's national championship was in 2001, not 2000, although it didn't lose a game in the Orange Bowl from 2000-02.

DolFan 316 said...

I am officially jealous of jimmyj.

BurritoBrosShits said...

Am I an idiot? How do you constantly go over the stated capacity of a stadium over and over again? Wouldn't you just change the capacity? I'm asking this in all seriousness.

The Boonies said...

The way schools report their attendance figures is a JOKE. It is routine to report inflated figures to artificially boost media and fan interest. For example, the USF bulls figure their attendance by including any employees who are working in the building the day of the game (I know b/c I work there). It's all a game, and the schools know all the tricks. The ONLY way you go over capacity is with standing room only which depends on the setup of a particular stadium.