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College Football Attendance Drops… Even In The SEC

The Birmingham News has confirmed what most folks with eyes have been saying for a while now — college football attendance is dropping.  No surprise there.  HDTV has improved the in-home experience.  New television contracts guarantee that most games are now on television (in some form or fashion).  Ticket prices and required donations continue to rise at many schools.  While a stagnant economy forces fans to be more selective when it comes to spending.

The result was the lowest attended season in college football since 2003.  The Southeastern Conference took a hit, too.

According to the ever-excellent Jon Solomon:


“The SEC continued to lead the nation at 75,444 fans per game, but that was its lowest average since 2007.  SEC crowds are down 2 percent since peaking in 2008 at 76,844.

This season, the SEC began allowing stadium scoreboards to air multiple replays of any play, including those under review by officials. The NFL used a similar approach.  The idea is to try to provide similar same bells and whistles fans can get by saving money and watching at home.

In 2012, a face-value ticket for an SEC game reached $100 for the first time.  Four years ago, the SEC’s priciest ticket was the Iron Bowl at $65.  This season, 30 SEC games cost at least $65, including nondescript matchups such as Mississippi State-Tennessee, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt, Missouri-Vanderbilt and Missouri-Kentucky.

On the other hand, the minimum SEC season-ticket price in 2012 — defined by as the cost of regularly-priced season tickets plus any required minimum donation — showed no increase from 2011.  Half of the league’s returning schools reported decreases in their cheapest season-ticket cost.”


At, we’ve taken each SEC school’s 2012 average paid attendance and compared those numbers to last season’s figures.

Keep in mind, these numbers reflect tickets sold, not actual attendance.


  School   2011 Avg. Attendance   2012 Avg. Attendance   Change
  Alabama   101,821   101,722   -99 per game
  Georgia   92,613   92,703   +90 per game
  LSU   92,868   92,626   -242 per game
  Tennessee   94,642   89,965   -4,677 per game
  Florida   89,061   87,597   -1,464 per game
  Texas A&M   87,183   87,014   -169 per game
  Auburn   85,792   82,646   -3,146 per game
  S. Carolina   79,131   80,001   +870 per game
  Arkansas   66,990   68,046   +1,056 per game
  Missouri   62,095   67,476   +5,381 per game
  Ole Miss   56,488   57,066   +578 per game
  Miss. State   55,949   55,628   -321 per game
  Kentucky   60,007   49,691   -10,316 per game
  Vanderbilt   32,873   37,860   +4,987 per game


What these numbers most clearly show is the mood of each fanbase heading into the 2012 season.  Florida was coming off a disastrous — for Florida — 7-6 campaign.  Auburn, Tennessee and Kentucky — the Cats were down a whopping 10,316 tickets sold per game — were also coming off disappointing seasons and all three wound up firing their coaches after this past season. For those wondering if fans have an impact on coaching decisions, take special note of that.  The SEC schools dealing with the three biggest drops in sales all replaced their coaches.

On the other end of the spectrum, fans of Ole Miss, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Missouri were all energized this past offseason.  Rebel fans were glad to have a new coach in charge.  Gamecock and Razorback fans snapped up tickets in hopes of BCS runs.  Vandy fans were excited about football in general.  And Mizzou backers were pumped about the prospects of entering a new conference.

Here’s guessing big jumps will be seen next year at Florida (great season), Auburn (new coach), Ole Miss (surprisingly good season), Kentucky (new coach) and Vandy (continued improvement).  Big drops might be coming to Missouri (disappointing season) and Tennessee (unpopular new coach hired after a bad season).

Mississippi State might — might — take a slight dip after losing four of their last five games and getting ripped by Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, but we don’t expect too much of a decline if any.

Meanwhile, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M will likely continue to coast along at close to max capacity.



(hardly excellent on this one) Jon Solomon fails to understand that "nondescript matchups" such as Mizzou-Kentucky was a sellout at 71k and Mizzou-Vandy had 66k (not a sellout, but still 3k more than the 63K actual SEATS at Faurot Field.  Alas Vandy brought few fans).


Mizzou gained on dollars and seats.  As a season ticket holder, I am curious about how much of the increase was due to visiting team fans.  Georgia has a large group and the Kentucky was pretty respectable.


You have to remember that Arkansas plays two home games per year at 53,000-seat War Memorial in LR, which brings down its average numbers.


Over 10,000 fans in one year - that is staggering.


It would be interesting to see each gain or loss in attendance next to the increase in average ticket price for each school.  Only then would you know if the schools truly gained or lost revenue from these numbers. 


 @I4BamaI think you missed a zero --- 100,000. And yes, I agree that is staggering.


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