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.
Last 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, 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.