Thursday, September 30, 2010

Playing to Empty

Kickoff, BYU at Florida State

As “friendly” rivals of that school to the north and west, we might be expected to notice the vast expanses of empty seats in Doak Campbell Stadium. Alas, it seems others have taken notice, from the Orlando Sentinel’s Andrew Carter to uber-blogger Dr. Saturday.

It’s one thing to read that stadium attendance is around 80% - its quite another to put that in perspective.

Here are the percentage of attendance figures for the top 20 college stadiums, which all just happen to have 100% or better attendance so far this year –

1 Cincinnati 127.23
2 Louisville 127.09
3 Alabama 110.51
4 Texas Tech 109.7
5 Oregon 108.51
6 Boise St. 106.68
7 Nebraska 105.62
8 Oklahoma 103.56
9 Ohio St. 102.75
10 Florida 102.14
11 Arkansas 101.67
12 Mississippi St. 101.4
13 Texas 101.27
14 Michigan 101.06
15 Utah 100.65
16 Houston 100.26
17 Kansas St. 100.21
18 LSU 100.17
19 Michigan St. 100.04
20 Georgia 100
20 Notre Dame 100
20 Iowa 100
20 Virginia Tech 100

Sure, having over 100% attendance has an air of “These numbers go to eleven” about it (and, in the case of Cincinnati and Louisville the NCAA seems to have their stadium capacities as too small). But how dismal is 80%?

Dismal enough to rank FSU 68th nationally (their actual figure is 80.55%)

That puts them behind practically every Florida school, with UF at 102.14% and

FIU – 99.4%
USF – 97.1%
UCF – 85.4%

They also trail such notables as –

Wake Forest – 95.1%
Western Kentucky – 93.9%
Rutgers – 93.75%
Washington – 93.3%
Fresno State (the “other” FSU) – 90.8%
Ohio – 88.4%
Illinois – 81.5%

(In the category of irony, Illinois is coached by Ron Zook, who won at FSU the very night “Bobby Bowden Field” was so named. OK, that’s not really irony, but it sure is a fun factoid!)

Even the following SEC perennial cellar dwellers are outdrawing FSU this year–

Kentucky – 96.6%
Vanderbilt – 93.2%
Mississippi – 89.5%

In fact, every single SEC team has higher attendance than Florida State by at least 9%.

I have been reluctant to conclude, like so many of my fellow Gator fans, that the Seminole’s current problems are permanent. But even in Florida’s darkest days (late 80’s), we sold our stadium out. It would seem, to me at least, that fan support is a critical element in program recovery.

Lastly, FSU isn’t even the worst in Florida year-to-date in percentage of attendance. That dubious honor goes to Da “U”, rolling in a miserable 71.7% of capacity so far this year. “U” defenders might cite that they play in Dolphin/Sun Life Stadium, to which I’d counterpoint that capacity in Joe Robbie/Landshark/Highest Bidder Stadium is about 75,000 – about 15,000 short of Florida Field.

1 comment:

Mojave Gator said...

I was under the mistaken impression that this was the year the confidence and swagger returned to FSU. Bowden is gone, and the team doesn't have to listen to his incoherent ramblings anymore. Maybe a lot of them finally realized that the bunch running the program now have already been running things for two or three years already, and they're still mediocre.