clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Big Ten Attendance: Bowl Edition Preview, Part 1

December 26. Traveling to a bowl game. The day after Christmas? It's a tough time for bowls, and not just the game we're heading to in Detroit.

They come for the Lions.  How many will be there for RU-UNC?
They come for the Lions. How many will be there for RU-UNC?
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers fans have had a week or so to process the fact that they're going to Detroit for a bowl.  And I think most are saying, okay, it isn't that bad a situation.  No, the day after Christmas is not ideal. No, Detroit isn't Orlando.  But we are bowling.

The Quick Lane Bowl takes the place of the now defunct Little Caesar's Bowl, which is good. If it was still Little Caesar's, it would mean that two games of our bowl history dealt with pizza.

The big question that has arisen is, will RU fans go?  How many fans will actually be in the seats at Ford Field, from any school or any where?

A Detroit news story has highlighted how Rutgers is working to get as many Scarlet fans in the seats as possible.  And unlike bowl games in the past, RU will not be on the hook for unsold ticket allocations.

Still, no one wants to see lots of empty seats on TV, certainly not the Big Ten or any of the corporate sponsors of the game.  Among those sponsors are Quick Lane (of course), Sony, and Nike.  Those folks don't want to be embarrassed and they'll work to get people inside Ford Field.

Rutgers is doing its part with free tickets to undergrads and requests for fans not attending to buy/donate $35 tickets for students and military personnel.

There have been comments about bowls that are played before, on, and right after Christmas just not drawing good crowds.  And that point is a knock on playing in one of them.  True statement?  Take a look at a few of last year's bowls that fit that criteria:

The question might be, is it the timing of the game, the bowl match up, both, or something else?  Before Christmas (in blue), there wasn't one of these selected bowls that drew over 30,000.  East Carolina-Ohio (Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg) isn't the greatest match up in the world, although the location is great. And Pitt-Bowling Green (Dec. 26 in Detroit) has problems with the eye test.  Of course, RU-Notre Dame on a Saturday, three days after Christmas, was a much bigger draw -- for a lot of obvious reasons. And the later on the calendar you went (gold bars), the sexier the match up and, generally, the larger the attendance.

Speaking of sexier games....

What about the Big Ten's attendance in bowl games?  Let's look at last year when half the conference (that was six, then) went bowling:

We can ignore the Rose Bowl. What school couldn't sell tickets for that game?  Look at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (BWW), played three days after Christmas with Michigan playing K-State.  Not a bad matchup and a great location, Tempe, AZ. Attendance was 53,284.  But the Texas Bowl, played a day earlier in Houston against Syracuse drew only 32,327. Before that game, the Gophers had lost five straight bowl games. The other games were all New Year's Day bowls featuring traditional powers, and naturally drew well.  The six-game average was over 61,000.  But if you remove the Rose Bowl, the average drops to just over 55,000.

Tomorrow, we'll look at Rutgers' bowl attendance.