College Football Attendance is Down Significantly. Blame Soft Schedules and Rising Ticket Prices

College football, which many are calling the 2nd most popular sport in the country, saw attendance dip to its lowest average since 2003, according to Alabama.com. Ticket prices are up, and thus fans are staying at home and watching the games on TV.

Fifty-six percent of the FBS schools reported fewer fans in 2012 than the previous season. Some of those dips were very minor, but others saw huge chunks of fans disappear.

Eight BCS schools experienced attendance declines of 10 percent or greater from 2011: Kentucky (17 percent); Maryland (15 percent); Stanford (13 percent); and Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Colorado (10 percent each).

Five of the nation’s top 20 attendance leaders experienced noticeable declines, led by 5-percent drops at Penn State and Tennessee.

This one’s easy – nobody plays anybody anymore. We’ve bemoaned this fact for years. Contenders soften the schedule years in advance to enhance their chance of reaching a BCS game. (Some bail at the last minute.) Marginal teams don’t play anybody so they can reach .500 and get into a bowl game.

Florida State, a Top 25 team all year, saw an attendance dip. Why? The schedule was a joke. Also, the prices of tickets have gotten out of hand. Who is coughing up $65 for this junk, even in the mighty SEC?

In 2012, a face-value ticket for an SEC game reached $100 for the first time. Four years ago, the SEC’s priciest ticket was the Iron Bowl at $65. This season, 30 SEC games cost at least $65, including nondescript matchups such as Mississippi State-Tennessee, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt, Missouri-Vanderbilt and Missouri-Kentucky.

Toss in parking, food, drink … you’re well over $100 for one person. Much more fun to host a gathering or go to a bar and watch. What’s more fun: staying at home all day and watching all the games, or just going to one? [AL.com]

Note: Last college football game I paid to attend as a fan – Halloween weekend, 2003. Miami at Virginia Tech. Brock Berlin and the Top 10 Hurricanes were taken down by Marcus Vick and DeAngelo Hall, 31-7.

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