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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:59 am 
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I have long thought that schools like Temple and Tulane are cutting their throats by playing in stadiums that are just too large. People don't like sitting in empty stadiums, but fans LOVE sitting in full ones.

I have taken my multi-year averages and matched them against stadium sizes to get a percentage of capacity number for football attendance.

With that said there are a lot of ways to interpret this data. With that in mind, lets take a look at FBS.

over 80% capacity

School % filled
Oregon 108.07%
Tennessee 103.40%
Michigan 102.81%
Ohio St. 102.63%
Oklahoma 102.57%
Florida St. 102.12%
Florida 102.03%
Wisconsin 100.82%
Michigan St. 100.29%
Texas 100.20%
Nebraska 100.16%
Notre Dame 100.01%
Georgia 99.82%
Penn St. 99.50%
LSU 99.43%
Boise St. 99.29%
Maryland 98.94%
Iowa 98.17%
South Carolina 98.16%
Virginia Tech 98.05%
Clemson 97.84%
Virginia 97.14%
Auburn 96.95%
Colorado 96.87%
Wake Forest 96.78%
Louisville 96.67%
Navy 96.47%
Connecticut 96.38%
Texas Tech 96.15%
North Carolina St. 95.96%
Oklahoma St. 95.67%
Brigham Young 95.53%
Texas A&M 95.03%
West Virginia 94.68%
Southern California 94.45%
Alabama 94.36%
Purdue 94.32%
Kentucky 94.09%
Arkansas 93.82%
Georgia Tech 93.22%
Fresno St. 93.07%
Kansas St. 91.77%
Boston College 91.45%
Washington 90.63%
Utah 89.05%
Mississippi 88.37%
Washington St. 88.25%
Colorado St. 88.21%
Arizona 88.14%
Rutgers 87.83%
Oregon St. 86.97%
Kansas 86.22%
North Carolina 85.29%
Iowa St. 85.08%
Southern Miss. 85.04%
East Caro. 84.48%
Stanford 84.31%
California 84.17%
Mississippi St. 84.14%
Vanderbilt 83.84%
New Mexico 82.94%
Idaho 82.07%
Army 82.02%
Arizona St. 81.81%
Missouri 81.51%
Toledo 80.87%

Almost all of these schools are financially profitable and fan interest locally is high --- even at the few schools on the list whose stadiums are undersized.

Boise is upgrading to 32K with plans to hit 50K. They really are the textbook way to handle upgrades (see Broncho Stadium link)and frankly it can be argued they are the model Idaho is following with their semi-regular upgrade attempts.

Wake Forrest has been consistently competitive for years now. Even though they have a small private University, it is high time to bump that stadium up to 35-38K.

If CSU bounces back to competitiveness their attendance returns to the 28-30K level, they should consider a 5K expansion at least. With 26K students, they are probably turning away fans for the bigger games.

S. Miss is probably fine as it is.

Idaho is trying to upgrade their stadium and will likely not have a problem filling it as they do. May want to try a big name coach again to land some recruits and some funding.

Toledo has an appropriately sized stadium.

70-79%
South Fla. 78.64%
Syracuse 77.50%
Minnesota 77.26%
Hawaii 76.69%
TCU 73.59%
UCF 72.94%
Marshall 72.75%
Air Force 72.22%
UCLA 71.61%
UTEP 70.02%

All of these schools could get into the upper tier. Schools like Hawaii, UCF, Marshall, and USF are surging. Schools like TCU (bad exposure in the MWC) and Syracuse (bad coach) are fading.

50-69%
Illinois 69.84%
Ohio 69.65%
Baylor 69.54%
Indiana 68.88%
Northern Ill. 68.70%
Troy 67.92%
Florida Int'l 67.92%
Cincinnati 67.62%
Pittsburgh 67.05%
Miami (Fla.) 65.41%
Tulsa 63.90%
UNLV 63.43%
Houston 62.76%
Western Mich. 62.54%
Fla. Atlantic 61.17%
Northwestern 60.08%
Miami (Ohio) 59.81%
Ball St. 59.61%
Wyoming 57.79%
Central Mich. 57.55%
Bowling Green 57.49%
Louisiana Tech 57.47%
San Diego St. 56.86%
Duke 56.86%
Nevada 56.39%
North Texas 56.17%
Memphis 56.13%
Arkansas St. 53.78%
Southern Methodist 53.64%
La.-Monroe 53.31%
Middle Tenn. St. 52.47%
San Jose St. 50.56%
La.-Lafayette 50.34%
New Mexico St. 50.06%


This next tier are universities where either football wins have dropped off, the stadiums are too far from campus, or maybe something as simple as they need to raise money to replace their 50 yard line bench seats with some kind of backed seating. In most instances, tarping the end zones or upper decks to reduce capacity for less hated opponents (see Rice Stadium link) would be the best solution for these schools as it is easily reverseable and cheap to do, although replacing or converting some upper decks into press boxes might make sense for some.

Generating a few more "sell outs" each season generates fan interest. Getting 19K fans scattered throughout a 30K stadium is simply not going to be as exciting for those fans as sitting next to 18,999 other fans rabid fans in a stadium with an artificially reduced capacity of 20K.

0-50%
Utah St. 49.30%
Buffalo 42.70%
Akron 40.04%
Kent St. 33.46%
Eastern Mich. 32.39%
Rice 31.67%
Tulane 30.86%
Temple 30.70%
UAB 29.20%

These are universities that are frankly, doing something wrong.

Utah State's Romney Stadium. Not a very good team lately, but that should right itself soon. Really a nice stadium design, IMO. Chair backed seats on the west half the stadium. Any guesses why they only fill half of it? I would stongly push getting another 10K chair back seats in that stadium, splitting the total between sidelines. That would probably bump their attendance to the 75-80% level where growth can occur.

Buffalo I've droned on about. Bad weather. On the fringe of a conference considered mostly irrelevant to locals. In the past, non-competitive. Frankly the stadium is a nice stadium but not well thought out. It was a sweet 16K FCS stadium with grandstands on either side. Now it is 31K, but they didn't expand the sides in getting it there. It kind of looks like they may have as many (or more) seats in one of the end zones as they do on either side. That kind of thing often hurts a teams's attendance. No one wants to sit in the end zone --- or look at that many empty seats. Tarp both of the north end zones as well as the top half of the south end zones (getting the capacity to around 20-22K) and keep winning and in 5-10 years they may be able to fill that monstrosity.

Akron was playing in the Rubber bowl --- a 35K stadium 3 Miles from campus. 2 Miles seems to be where you usually start seeing falloff in a willingness to go. They are building what is reported to be a 30K stadium on campus. With the surge in gas prices it may end up being a little smaller---25K? (Something like that would actually help them a bit in the short-term if it should happen.) That should be a hugely successful upgrade. I expect to see them hitting 75% capacity or more when it is built.

Kent State's Dix Stadium. Has pretty much the UB stadium problem with a lot of their 29K seats in the end zones. The west bleacher probably sits 15K. The north, south, and east probably all seat 5K each. The leadership at Kent probably realize what a stinker of a stadium they have. Think about it. No one is going to want to sit in the upperdeck of the giant bleacher in a percieved small stadium. No one is going to want to sit in either end zone. Result = 10K attendance. To their credit they have made sound plans this time around that started with prettying it up and ended with knocking down the south endzone bleachers to get capacity down to about 24-25K. That partially makes up for blowing the replacement of the east bleachers. If they had built those to house twice as many people as they did when they rebuilt them in 2002-3, they'd have been in a much, Much better position today. Ideally, knocking down the other end zone bleachers would get them down to about a 20K stadium and would get people to sit in the upper deck of the big bleachers. Frankly, the MAC might not go for that. Maybe the NCAA wouldn't either. I'd make Phase 3 trying to expand seating on the east side.

EMU's Rynearson Stadium. Given a poorly conceived expansion in 1992 to satisfy NCAA requirements, I suspect the stadium has been a major player in bringing down EMU football. Luckily it can be MORE than easily transformed into a money maker for the university and a great stadium for the team. Rip out the track and build a new track elsewhere. Move the playing feild southward so the bleachers are more centered on the feild. Suddenly you have a phenominal stadium without a bad seat in the building. Additionally, eyeballing it, it appears with the track gone, you can fit a CFL feild and a regulation soccer feild in that bowl. You could have a CFL team and a pro soccer team paying the university rent that could be used to build up athletic facitilities. Frankly you might eventually have soccer CHAMPIONSHIPS there. It would be a perfectly laid out CFL stadium in a region where a former CFL owner has said he wants to put a team.

Rice covered the end zones benches at rice stadium with tarps so their "tarped capacity" is now 47K (70K untarped). That helps, but they are a university of 3K students --- they need at most a 30-35K stadium. I think ultimately their best bet is to raise funds to remove the parts of the upper deck that extend beyond the lower deck. Just trimming down the upper deck so it would be uniform with the lower deck would (eyeballing it) cut capacity by about 12K leaving a tarped 35K stadium and an untarped 58K stadium --- still big enough for a revenue generating Houston bowl game or HBCU game. That would be pretty ideal for Rice.

Tulane needs to understand that the Sugar bowl is killing them. It is 3 miles away and way too large for their needs. New Orleans is argueably no longer big enough to support the sugar bowl in general and Tulane's fan base never was. The sugar bowl does not allow tailgating. If you aren't going to allow that, you might as well give up playing college football in the deep south. Tad Gormley Stadium may be a dump in compairison, but it seats 26.5K, is 4 miles from campus, and allows tailgating. Tulane has sold it out fairly consitently in the past. I'd schedule a game a year against LSU in the Sugar bowl if possible or even maybe Memphis , but shy of that there is no reason to play there. Playing in Gormley would be very cheap and would likely sell out pretty frequently yeilding a 24-26K attendance average. If they land a sell out LSU game in the sugar bowl, that season average would be about 32.5K. They will NEVER hit that in the sugar bowl exclusively, so why pay a premium to play there?

Temple has a similar deal. They ask their students to drive 7 Miles to cavernous 68K Lincoln Financial Feild to see the games. Penn has rented use of their stadium Franklin feild, to all kinds of people. It is closer to Temple (5 Mi), probably much cheaper than Franklin, and at 52K it is a better size for a large university, but one that plays at the MAC-level. Ideally though Temple should just tear up the soccer feilds at 15th and West Norris and build a 40K stadium on campus. The track could be turned into a parking lot. There would obviously be access issues---maybe the city can work up some shuttle lines for game days, but it might be manageable as Temple has an enrollment of 34K. With an on campus stadium, most of the attendees will be students walking over to the game.

UAB needs to sink money into a good name coach more than anything. Alabama and pro football has ceeded the city to them. Legion field is a right sized stadium with that in mind. The fact that HBCU games pack the place suggests there is a major appetite for football in Birmingham. The fact that UAB doesn't come close to selling out, EVER, suggests the issue is not the fans, but the brand of football UAB plays.

Like SMU this off-season, they need a big name in the region to fill the stadium and bring in recruits. Jerry Glanville? Ray Perkins? Bobby Ross? Gene Stallings? Pat Dye? Bill Curry would have been great but Georgia St. smartly snapped him up. Terry Bowden would be the guy I'd go after. How much do you think he'd like to stick it to Bobby Lowder by making UAB the #1 team in Alabama...?

Here are those two links I mentioned.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronco_Stadium

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_Stadium


Last edited by finiteman on Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 1:58 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:57 pm
Posts: 1276
Location: Portland! (and about time!)
Fans are more likely to buy season tickets IF they worry they won't get tickets otherwise. Heck, I can show how it happened in Eugene, where two-thirds capacity was the norm in the 80s.

That's more important than fans LIKING a full stadium.

Of course, Stanford downsizing was no accident.

BTW... now I'm reminded of Montana. You complained about adding to endzones vice "main stands" in your comments. Problem: that's a substantial cost schools don't like to visit. Both Utah and Oregon managed to bypass this potential issue because the big donors financed having double the personnel for their renovations. If you don't have that, you design for the endzones and let a big renovation happen in time. That's exactly what's happened at Montana, where there's money... but only so much.

Heck, look at Nebraska. They shouldn't have ANY money problems, yet they have what they have. Not everyone puts this on their priority list.


Last edited by pounder on Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:23 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2002 8:05 am
Posts: 556
Location: Dallas
Excellent points, man.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:15 am 
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Great post, kudos

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