Monday, May 18, 2009

Headlines: Men's Basketball Attendance Ranked 99th Nationally

Brian: I just read this blog post about how Siena men's basketball team placed 72nd nationally in men's basketball average attendance last season, according to an annual report produced by the NCAA office. The article goes on to state how Siena topped the average attendance of many major power conference schools, including Georgia Tech, Seton Hall, Stanford, Georgia, Mississippi, USC and Boston College. But just how bad was it last season for the Eagles?

The Eagles ...
  • Ranked 99th nationally in men's basketball average attendance with 19 home games, total attendance of 105,418 and average attendance of 5,548
  • Filled Conte Forum to 64% capacity on average over those 19 home games
  • Finished 11th out of 12 ACC teams, only topping Miami (FL)'s average attendance of 4,537 a game
  • Were outdrew by such basketball powerhouses as the aforementioned Siena (7,497), Missouri State (7,147), Illinois St. (7,118), Charlotte (6,184), VCU (6,106), Hawaii (5,889), Evansville (5,863), and Oral Roberts (5,625), among others

As a conference, the ACC ...
  • Finished 3rd in average attendance with 10,943 per game, behind the Big Ten (12,519) and the SEC (11,625)
  • Attendance was down an average of 329 per game year over year, the second lowest decrease of the major power conferences (behind only the Big East)
  • Drew the most attendees of any of the major conference tournaments, with an average of 26,352 attendance over the 6 sessions, and a total of 158,112

Jeff, I know we play in the second smallest arena in the ACC (ahead of only Miami's BankUnited Center with a capacity of 7,900), but are you a bit surprised in these numbers given that the men's team got back to the NCAA tournament and hosted a #3 ranked Wake Forest team, a #11 ranked Clemson team and a #5 ranked Duke team at home this season?

Jeff: Brian, I am not surprised even a little bit. We talked at length about how poor attendance was this year and when you watched other ACC games on TV you rarely saw the same number of empty seats compared to Conte. There often seems to be a one year lag in attendance relative to what the team accomplished so hopefully next year will be better and I would bet money that Maryland's attendance, for example, will drop.

Brian: What, if anything, can be done to get attendance back up over the next couple of years?

Jeff: Well, first, where do you think BC should be on this list? I mean, seven schools averaged higher per-game attendance than Conte's capacity. BC should maybe be able to push 7,000 per game but that is about as good as it will ever get because they might pack the house for all ACC games, but some of those out of conference games will always be played in front of 3,000 or so. Last season was bad, but it was probably mostly due to the previous year's sub .500 season. I would love to see fewer season ticket packages sold and half season packages offered instead because I think if you have tickets to fewer games you would be more inclined to attend each one. However, I don't anticipate that happening.

Brian: I realize that BC is certainly constrained by having one of the smallest arenas in the Conference, and it's basically a glorified hockey rink at that. But to control for differences in the size of the conference's various arenas, I thought it would be interesting to look at the attendance % filled. I wasn't as disappointed with the turnout in terms of raw numbers, but was pretty disappointed when you look at BC's average attendance % filled.

TeamGamesAvg Att.Capacity% Filled
North Carolina1521,03521,75096.71%
Virginia Tech169,41410,05293.65%
Wake Forest1512,12214,40784.14%
Georgia Tech177,4779,19181.35%
NC State1813,45619,086*70.50%
Florida State167,89712,10065.26%
Boston College195,5488,60664.47%
Miami (Fla)164,5377,90057.43%

The 64% was better than only Miami, an ACC program without much basketball history to speak of. Teams that had mediocre to downright bad years this year, like Virginia (4-12) or Georgia Tech (2-14), outdrew BC by quite a bit in terms of filling their home arenas. This might have something to do with the proximity to other schools or capacity rates may lag behind by a few years as you suggested.

Not sure if its a ticket pricing issue, a reworking of the student ticket policies, or a strengthening of our out of conference schedule, but I only hope that over the next few years we can get the capacity of Conte up to be more competitive with the rest of the conference.

Jeff: Let me reiterate that I strongly believe that Georgia Tech and Virginia will feel the effects of this year's season in next year's attendance just as we paid this year for last season. Next year will be better for Boston College regardless of any changes to prices or policies.

Brian: Not so sure that Georgia Tech or Virginia will see drop offs in attendance if this guy or this guy have anything to say about it.

*NC State played two games at Reynolds Coliseum (14,000) and 16 games at the RBC Center (19,722). A weighted average was used for capacity in this case. It's an art, not a science, people.


Anonymous said...

I am sure if alcohol was sold, attendance would be greater. You should see if that makes a difference say at non-tradition schools such as Va Tech. Of course with alcohol, you get a larger assortment of other problems.

Anonymous said...

The capacity at Florida State decreased to 12,200 with the addtional of sky boxes a few years ago.

Erik said...

I make it to my half dozen games each season, but you can't ignore life to go to every game. And I'm one of the big BC fans trolling these boards every day.

People in Greater Boston with no affliation have 41 home Celtics games looking them in the face, not many are gonna choose to go to a BC game instead. Besides the Celtics, there's Bruins, BC Hockey, BU Hockey, Northeastern Hockey, Merrimack Hockey, UMass Lowell Hockey, UMass Basketball, UMass Hockey, Harvard Hockey, Lowell Lockmonsters, Providence Bruins. Plus such a high percentage of adults in the Northeast went to college, so their pride lies iwth their school, even if it was something like Salve Regina, not BC.

It's an endless list. BC's attendance has to come from students and alumni. Any outsiders who make it to games and take their kids to see BC - that's awesome.

But getting 3,000 students (reasonable #) at each could would go a long way toward the atmosphere and bottom line attendance.

conlonc said...

The only OOC games that have gotten people into Conte lately (that I can think of) are UMass, PC, and MSU. The first two were mostly because of opposing fans and the latter was not because we scheduled them. Other than that it's been Duke and UNC. This is not a new thing. The only conference games that packed it in while we were in the BE were UConn and Syracuse.

A perfect storm of factors has occured in recent years - strong prior season, lots of ranked opponents on the floor, returning all-ACC players and strong team cores, high preseason projection, and the fans still aren't there. After years and years of this, I am ready to point a finger towards what is obviously the main factor: unmotivated and disinterested fans. While some factors have come and some have gone or cycled through - the state of the fanbase has remained consistently the same. For shame.

Brian said...

I just looked at the % filled numbers going back to 1992-1993. Very interesting. We'll post these numbers later today.

While things are certainly cyclical, BC was able to break 80% attendance % filled 4 times in the last 17 seasons. 1993-1994, 1994-1995, 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. The previous season's win totals in those years? 17, 18, 24 and 25.

You can draw your own conclusions. Pains me to say this, but Jeff was right?

BC Billy 1979 said...

Do you guys remember Roberts Center? There were empty seats there for Big East games.

conlonc said...

Brian - so if the argument is right, BC should have good attendance the years after: 91-92 (17-14), 92-93 (18-13), 93-45 (23-11), 95-96 (19-11), 96-97 (22-9), 00-01 (27-5), 01-02 (21-12), 02-03 (19-12), 03-04 (24-10), 04-05 (25-5), 05-06 (28-8), and 06-07 (21-12). That's 11 seasons of 17+ wins and 9 seasons of 19+ wins, but we only broke 80%. Plus, don't we go by tickets sold for Conte? (I saw a 7,000 figure for the BC-FSU game and being there I KNOW there were not that many).

Sorry, I'm still highly skeptical of the theory Jeff.

conlonc said...

Sorry should say "but we only broke 80% 4 times?"

Brian said...

conlonc - Just posted the historical data going back to 92-93. Interested in your take.

Also, the box score stated attendance for BC vs. Florida State this year was less than 5k, FYI.

Harms said...

Lowell Lockmonsters? Erik, I agree with the college affiliations here in the NE, but the other college sports distractions argument outside of that is limited. People are either going to BC events or staying home -- to which you allude.

Unfortunately, if you're not an alumni, you are unlikely to heavily support BC sports...and that is a NE phenomenon.

Just what it is, in terms of priorities. Not ideal for us, but not bad for everyone's quality of life, either.

Gregory said...

The solution is simple - Get BC back into the Big East where it belongs- better conference with natural rivalries - Big East has been better football and basketball conference the past two years than ACC (Despite NC's champiomship) and face it how many Clemson, GA Tech fans are going to hop in car for two day trip to BC for a basketball game. A lot fewer than 1,000-1,500 Providence fans or 2,500 UConn fans or even 750-1,000 Seaton Hall, or St John's folk.