College Football Stadium Attendance Declining

By Ramzy Nasrallah on May 28, 2013 at 11:25a
the best place on earth during the best time of yearCell reception is only possible in an empty stadium. Advantage: Purdue

Game attendance in the SEC has declined for four consecutive seasons, even while leading all conferences in attendance (having more schools with large stadiums is apparently quite helpful).

College football is as popular as ever. Why is attendance going down? Tony Barnhardt counts the ways:

Cell phone service and WiFi are spotty at best in most large stadiums.

In Ohio Stadium it's virtually non-existent, but that doesn't keep the stadium announcer from telling you "to please text XXXX" to vote for its latest promotion. /MESSAGE NOT SENT

In the past, the SEC would only show one replay of any particular play in a game. And it had to be in real time, not in slow motion. The objective was to protect the officials from an overexcited fan base.

This happens in Ohio Stadium as well. Our "overexcited" fans *love* not seeing replays - almost as much as they love seeing real-time replays from a camera from the bench capturing footage of an excited trainer's butt. O-H!

Student attendance overall has dropped or, if the students do come, they show up late and leave early.

Why go sit in a giant, dry non-party with old people shouting at you to sit down when you can [everything else in the world goes here] while watching Ohio State football?

The existence of StubHub, Craigslist and other services that allow fans to buy and sell tickets has made it possible for people to pass on season tickets, and the contribution that goes with them, and simply pay a premium for the games they really want. 

This has happened in professional leagues too. The way they've countered this secondary market: The Chicago Cubs, for example, quietly "resell" many of their own tickets. They've surreptitiously become their own scalpers. Everyone wants a piece of the action, least of all the proprietor of the product.

Fans say they are growing tired of paying premium ticket prices for cupcake opponents.

You don't say.

There are also HD televisions with surround sound, an economy still recovering, students with more debt than ever and...well, those are enough reasons, right?


Comments Show All Comments

Dr. House's picture

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAH cell phone signals are spotty at best. is that the BEST idea they could come up with or were they shooting darts at the excuse dart board 
"Why go sit in a giant, dry non-party with old people shouting at you to sit down when you can [everything else in the world goes here] while watching Ohio State football?"
this seriously annoys me to no end i have every right to be that guy and stand during a concert, football basketball game. if the bluehairs have a problem they can get over it or give up their tickets and let the young blood have their tickets

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

Will the author please instruct me on how to obtain tickets to all the vacant seats to the Penn St. and/or Wisconsin games this season?  Thanks in advance.

Yeti's have feelings too.

Hovenaut's picture

Attention spans and three hour plus commitments in such stadiums don't seem to be meshing either....

Basso Profondo's picture

Alabama had unsold tickets to their NCG, I feel like OSU fans would always eat up every ticket available to an event like that... am I wrong? Last season during some less big home games the stadium seemed to always be full around kick-off, if not by the first few minutes of the first quarter.

brandonbauer87's picture

I think OSU fans may be the exception to this rule. I understand we may ONLY get 95,000 for the Buffalo game but that's not exactly the problem. You can get a better view from your couch but nothing beats the experience in the shoe. And also, I will not sit down. I recommend you stand up. 

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I agree.  OSU is in a fairly ideal situation.  It's the only game in town (no offense to CBJ or Crew); Columbus has had a fairly good economic track record despite the rest of the midwest; the team is always competitive; the alumni base is among the largest in the world; the student body is among the largest in the world; it's centrally located in a populous football crazy state; etc.  To me, Texas is a good comparison as Austin seems to share many characteristics of Columbus:  capital city, etc. 

Yeti's have feelings too.

TLB's picture

Premium seat pricing will have an impact at tOSU, especially if the face value climbs to over $100. 

Grantschu54's picture

not if they only roll those out for big games.

What do you need water for, Sunshine? We're Stretching and You're a Kicker!

d1145fresh's picture

Isn't OSU adding a new cell tower around the stadium which is suppose to improve service this year? I will say not having service is really bothersome. Not bothersome enough for me to not go to a game but still. 

9Route's picture

Economy. The price of everything is gradually skyrocketing, esp. the past 3 years.

I'm just happy to be here

rdubs's picture

Gradually skyrocketing, might be a contradiction, but I am no linguist.

rdubs's picture

Fortunately for a program like the U, there is nowhere to go but up:

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

Doing that intro with an empty stadium is just embarrassing.  Just walk out to the sideline with your head down and get started with the game. 

Yeti's have feelings too.

tennbuckeye19's picture

From the looks of that stadium attendance, kinda makes me think The U should start having their games at The Y...

harleymanjax's picture

In 2011 I went to the OSU game at Miami and I swear there were more Buckeye fans in the stands than U fans!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

painterlad's picture

Pardon the rant of this 47 year old Buckeye, but the last thing I want to do on a beautiful fall afternoon is sit in a sacred stadium and play with my freaking phone!!! I get enough texting, tweeting, Facebook updates about grumpy felines and videos of my drunk friends puking into bushes during the week that I think I can manage a few hours on a Saturday without great reception. I go for the GAME! I go to sit with 100,000 like minded Buckeyes to experience the crowd and the pageantry that is Ohio State football. If you are not attending because you can't get whatever it is on your phone that keeps you breathing, stay at home and peek at the game between phone interruptions and leave the tickets for people who want to watch an effing football game.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

WC Buckeye's picture


The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

rdubs's picture

What's awesome about this rant is that it is often the younger fans complaining that the old alums sit on their hands all game.  I guess both sides could improve a little.

LadyBuck's picture

I'm pretty sure almost all normal buckeye fans are in their seats for Script Ohio, but that's just my personal obersvations.

OSUinFl's picture

You would think all the sec stadiums would be a sell out. 80 % of the tickets are tax write off. I am guessing southern people just don't make a lot of money compare to  big ten people. 
   With there network why would anybody buy a ticket for a TV games. Sec people are very cheap. Just look an Vandy alum they can't sell there Staduim out.

OSUinFl's picture

Are numbers tickets sold or how many people show up for that game. A friend of mine went to Tenn /Troy game he doesn't believe they had 60,000 for that game.

BME_Buckeye's picture

With SEC coaches now 13-1 against adding a 9th conference game to their schedule, I expect more grumbling to come from fans about cupcakes unless they schedule tougher games. This could all change in the future though.

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


OSUinFl's picture

Georgia,Florida and South Carolina want no part of a 9 sec schedule. They play  a tough non rivalry schedule  game every season. Florida plays both Florida state and Miami.