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SEC Leads Nation In Football Attendance; Here’s Each School’s 5-Year Average

empty-stadium-seatsLast week, the NCAA released a report on college football attendance in 2013.  Naturally, the story was buried beneath an avalanche of signing day coverage.  (A tip of the cap to CollegeFootballTalk.com for bringing it to our attention.)

Once again, the SEC led all conferences in overall attendance.  No surprise.  The SEC also happens to have many of the nation’s biggest stadiums and no one has ever questioned SEC fan passion.

After some small decreases in overall attendance in recent years, the league enjoyed a slight uptick in 2013.  The average SEC stadium drew 75,674 fans per game in 2013 (up from 74,996 in 2012).  Second-best was the Big Ten at 70,431 per contest.  The Big 12 (58,899), Pac-12 (53,619), and ACC (49,982) brought up the rear among the Big Five power conferences.

Below is a look at the five-year average attendance numbers for each school currently residing in the SEC.  Keep in mind that some stadiums have increased in size while others have decreased (in order to add luxury suites and boxes).  Also keep in mind that Missouri and Texas A&M spent the first three years in our sample playing in the Big 12.  And remember, too, that these are paid attendance numbers, not actual turnstile counts.

 

SEC 5-year Attendance Comparison

  School   2009 Avg.   2010 Avg.   2011 Avg.   2012 Avg.   2013 Avg.   5-Year Avg.
  Alabama   92012   101821   101821   101722   101505   99776
  Tennessee   99220   99781   94642   89865   95584   95818
  Georgia   92746   92746   92613   92703   92746   92711
  LSU   92489   92718   92868   92626   91418   92423
  Florida   90635   90511   89061   87597   87440   89048
  Auburn   84614   86087   85792   82646   85657   84959
  Texas A&M   76800   82477   87183   87014   87125   84120
  S. Carolina   75369   76668   79131   80001   82401   78714
  Arkansas   65112   68932   66990   68046   61596   66135
  Missouri   64120   61540   62095   67476   63505   63747
  Kentucky   69594   66070   60007   49691   59472   60967
  Ole Miss   55767   55898   65488   57066   59393   58722
  Miss. State   53792   54999   55949   55628   55695   55213
  Vanderbilt   35015   33269   32873   37860   35675   34938

 

Observations:

*  Alabama, winners of three of the last five national titles, actually saw attendance drop just a hair in each of the last two seasons.

*  Tennessee fans were glad to see Derek Dooley go.  UT averaged about 6,000 more fans per game in Year One of the Butch Jones era than they did in Dooley’s final season.

*  Georgia’s fanbase is just about the most steady ticket-buying force in the SEC.

*  LSU’s average attendance fell by about 1,000 last season average sitting in the 92,000s for the previous four years.  Still, no one’s going to cry over 91,000+ attendance.

*  Florida’s attendance has dropped for five consecutive years.  Coming off a 4-8 season with a coach on the hot seat it’s probably a safe bet that attendance will drop once more at The Swamp in 2014.

*  Texas A&M’s numbers will balloon to the 100,000+ mark when the renovations at Kyle Field are complete.  Question is: Will Alabama or Tennessee reconfigure their seating charts to push past the Aggies’ official capacity?

*  Jeremy Foley had a chance to bring Steve Spurrier back to Gainesville.  Instead, he went with Urban Meyer (two BCS trophies but a listing program left behind) and then onto Will Muschamp.  As he’s seen UF’s attendance drop for five straight years, Spurrier and South Carolina have seen attendance increases for five years in a row.  Hard to argue that Gamecock fans are among the most loyal football followers in the league.  They stood by their team through what was pretty much a century of heartache.  Now they’re packing the house as Spurrier piles up wins.

*  So much for Bret Bielema exciting the Arkansas fanbase.  After the misery of Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith, about 7,000 fewer Razorback fans bought tickets to see the Hogs play last year.

*  Missouri attendance dropped sharply last season but that was due to stadium renovations.

*  The big winners in SEC attendance were the Kentucky Wildcats.  Mitch Barnhart saw his school move about 10,000 more tickets per game last season.  UK was still 10,000 off its 2009 pace under Rich Brooks, but the school still made a nice bounce back from the end of the Joker Phillips era (less than 50,000 tickets sold per game in 2012).  Not bad considering the Cats finished 2-10 on the season.  Commonwealth Stadium is also due for a renovation project that will drop capacity but raise the number of premium seats.

*  Ole Miss saw attendance pick up by about 2,000 souls per game last season.

*  Mississippi State’s attendance has been steady for the past three seasons.  The Bulldogs have a stadium expansion project in the works.

*  Vanderbilt fans can’t be mad at James Franklin for leaving.  For trying to swipe half their recruiting class?  Yes, fine, be mad.  But the man worked wonders at Vandy and led the Dores to three consecutive bowl games.  Yet attendance fell by about 2,000 folks per game last year… down to 35,675.  Penn State’s Beaver Stadium seats more than 107,000 and the Nittany Lions averaged 96,000+ last season.  Ballpark, Franklin could be coaching in front of three times as many fans next season.  Of course he left.

 


8 comments
mcarter
mcarter

Regarding Arkansas attendance numbers, folks should realize that the 2 Little Rock home games per year -- the stadium seats just over 53,000 -- bring down the overall numbers.



mercysakes
mercysakes

I think instead of giving actual numbers of attendance, 'a percentage of attendance would be more accurate in determining actual drop off or increase of attendance. Example if a particular stadium held 107,000 and they only have 90,000 in attendance then the percentage of attendance would about 84%. but if a stadium only held 60. 000 and they had a crowd of 55,000 in attendance then the attendance percentage would be over 91% if my math is correct. 

the_voice
the_voice

Regarding Arkansas: given the Razorbacks going from top ten finishes in 2010 and 2011 to 4 wins in 2012, renewals for 2012 occurring before Petrino self destructed, and having 6 of 7 2012 home games in Fayetteville (seats 25,000 over Little Rock) versus 5 of 7 in 2013; the dropoff could have easily been worse.

As a curiosity, when a team plays a "home" game at a neutral sight, does that goose the numbers we're seeing above? (As an example, is Arlington Texas a home game for TAM and Ark every other year?)

sojourner
sojourner

"Tennessee fans were glad to see Derek Dooley go."

you got that right!  but he was only number 2 in the 'don't let the door hit ya' derby.  number 1 was and always will be mike hamilton who could screw up a one car funeral.

the_voice
the_voice

@mcarter  Some of those Little Rock games have been home games for Louisiana Monroe. The hogs "home" attendance is hard to compare year to year with the LR and Arlington games.

sojourner
sojourner

@the_voice the pigs do themselves no favors, recruiting or otherwise, by playing marquee games in that outdated high school stadium in little rock (georgia gets to visit there this year). 

mcarter
mcarter

@the_voice @mcarter  Yeah, two games at LR were officially counted as home games for ULM -- in 2010 and 2012, I think.

the_voice
the_voice

@sojourner @the_voice  It's about the big money donors from central Arkansas and recruiting outside of the northwestern corner of the state where Fayetteville is. What passes as the hotbed of recruiting in Arkansas is 3 to 5 hours from campus. Without those recruits and that money the Razorbacks would have no chance to compete in the SEC.

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