2011 Football Attendance Figures and Thoughts

Post-expansion, attendance averaged 48,542 in 2009 and 46,195 last season.

Attendance at High Point Solutions Stadium through four games this season has averaged 43,667.  The Pitt and Navy games had the highest figures to date at 46,079 and 47,138, respectively, and I suspect the remaining games against West Virginia, South Florida and Cincinnati will be well-attended.  Statistically speaking, 2011 cannot match 2009's average at this point, but it could top 2010's average if each of the remaining three games hits 50,000.

Stadium Financing

This is generally good news as far as the debt issued to cover the stadium expansion goes.  If I remember correctly, the stadium financing debt-service projections had built in assumptions of attendance between 45,500 and 40,500 per game.  Essentially, the financial analysts projected that the expansion project would pay for itself if attendance could meet that capacity over the term of the loan.  So far, Rutgers has exceeded the high-end mark each of the first two seasons, and will likely do so again this season (attendance against West Virginia, South Florida and Cincinnati just needs to meet the Navy game). 

I would love to read an actual plain-English article about this topic after the season, a "where things are three years later" kind of thing.  Considering scandal-loving nature of the Star Ledger and their relative silence on this topic since all the sturm und drang at its inception, I gather things must be going well.  The more good light brought to the successes of the stadium expansion financing project, the better positioned RU will be to do something with the RAC. 

Room for Improvement

Obviously, when capacity is 52,454 and actual average is 48,000 or below, there is room for improvement.  The highest correlation with attendance is probably wins, and a sustained improvement on the field will yield better numbers than those to date.  I think last year was an abberation, and Rutgers will return to being a winning program.  Moving closer to 50,000 on average, however, will likely require 9+ regular-season win years as opposed to the 7+ regular-season win years we saw in 2007 through 2009. 

Another attendance factor is the opponent, and future games scheduled against Penn State, Miami and UCLA will give the numbers a big boost.  This factor is almost entirely in Rutgers' hands (not completely since it takes two to tango), and hopefully Tim P. keeps more games like these coming. 

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