I’ve been doing these attendance posts for a few years. I don’t know about you, but I hate to see empty seats at Rutgers home games. Sadly, there are more than a few there.
Last week, the season opened and Rutgers announced a crowd of 46,093. And we pretty much all know that Rutgers - like a lot of schools - announces tickets sold/distributed and not necessarily butts in the seats. It is what it is.
But there were a few comments about this, some more critical than others and one that questioned my “methodology” of using percent of capacity as a measure.
Attendness vs. Reality
Granted, everyone follows a similar methodology whereas announced "Attendance" really is tickets distributed (purchased or otherwise). However, actual butts-in-seats is really the more pertinent measure. .....
At best, "Attendance" figures provide some directional guidance on overall trends, but they’re meaningless for any type of specific measurement of actual gameday turnout. The only thing more meaningless is the concept of Capacity. Measuring how much an imaginary attendance number would conceivably fill a venue?? The more realistic way to interpret the Capacity figure is: % of (normal) ticket allotment distributed for this game.
As a counter: if we had 52,000 in the building - actual bodies - we’d be ecstatic. A full house. If Michigan had 52,000, they’d be wondering if Brady Hoke was back coaching. I think looking at the numbers compared to capacity does have validity.
The Week in the Big Ten
I am working without a computer. It is hell! So no nifty tables this week.
Michigan was the biggest of the big dogs with 111,384 at the Big House to see the Khaki Pants-ers handle Cincinnati, 36-14. Penn State was in the two spot at home this week. Their 33-14 thumping of Pitt drew 109,898. The Kool-Aid folks are nothing if not loyal and, well, Kool-Aid drinkers. They barely edged Ohio State which was thumped by Oklahoma at the Horseshoe in front of 109,088 stunned fans. Not a good day in Columbus.
The other “premier” teams did well, too. Michigan State and Wisconsin drew 77,910 and 77,542 respectively. Then there’s everybody else.
Maryland can pound its chest and say, “Look at us!” all it wants. After stunning Texas in Austin, with all their hype, with Durkin’s recruiting, how do you draw 37,105 for your home opener? And that’s sort of where I’m going this week.
Purdue, for its true home opener (last week was at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis) and Illinois for its second game in Champaign, each drew over 40,000. Announced. I saw some highlights of the Illini’s game and there were a whole lot of empty seats upstairs and in the endzone. But they were still pretty good crowds, certainly better than Rutgers and Maryland.
And maybe that’s what we can/should expect. Maybe 70,000-plus is reserved for the big name programs, the perennial title-chasers. Maybe the rest of the pack is in for a steady diet of 35, 40, 45,000. And happy for it.
Northwestern went on the road to Durham in the Daddy’s Got Money Bowl and played in front of 20,241 at Duke. 20,241!
Minnesota went west and played Oregon State: 35,206.
Indiana at Virginia? 38,993.
With multiple games on TV, with disposable income not always all that disposable, maybe the numbers will never be that big. Maybe ticket sales, a pretty important part of Rutgers’ revenue stream, will never be enough to change the conversation.
I’ll still report this. But maybe, just maybe, I need to adjust my expectations.
A final thought
There was another comment last week that I sort of pooh-poohed (something I don’t do that often).
Wait for the attendance at the Maryland game
Those numbers are going to be downright embarrassing.
To which I replied.....
I don’t think so.
Bring back Rutgers men's swimming and crew!
Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something
Yeah, well, I’m sort of rethinking that point. At least wrestling should draw that day!