Thursday, May 13, 2010

Basketball fairs well in down economy

Maryland basketball finished 7th in the nation in average attendance this past season (same as in 2009) and 2nd in the ACC with 16,792 fans per game. Attendance did drop 1.5% from 2009 and for the first time in many years there was not a sellout of season tickets. In fact there were tickets to the North Carolina and Duke home games available as late as January. Still, in a year when the economy has been in the toilet, unemployment is near double digits and there doesn’t seem to be much good news about a recovery I think a modest drop like that is fairly good news. Basketball season tickets are a fairly large outlay of money for an average fan compared to the modest few hundred dollars for football tickets. I think that shows the strength of Maryland basketball’s fanbase. That has an unfortunate side effect of turning every poor game or recruiting miss into a Hindenburg level disaster in the eyes of some fans but the advantages to Maryland and the athletic department of such a lucrative local following are tremendous. It would behoove AD Debbie Yow to keep that in mind when dealing with the needs of the basketball program. It would probably be a good thing for head coach Gary Williams to consider that while he may put up with an undue amount of scrutiny because of such a large group of fans he could be still coaching at Boston College. Al Skinner got fired there after becoming the winningest coach in their program’s history despite a shamefully apathetic fanbase that only had 5,317 fans per game even though BC was coming off a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

 

Team 2009 Avg. Attendance 2010 Avg. Atten. % Change
Boston College

5548

5317

-4.2

Clemson

8476

9465

11.7

Duke

9314

9314

0

Florida State

7897

7336

-7.1

Georgia Tech

7477

7979

6.7

Maryland

17048

16792

-1.5

Miami

4537

4713

3.9

UNC

21035

17786

-15.4

N.C. State

13456

13184

-2.0

Virginia

10219

10141

-0.8

Virginia Tech

9414

9290

-1.3

Wake Forest

12182

11833

-2.9

 

I guess UNC fans deserve their bandwagon reputation. I know their season was a disaster but a 15% drop coming off a championship? Embarrassing. Florida State went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in years and the attendance still dropped over 7%. How would Gary react to that? It will be interesting to see what happens to Clemson now that Purnell has moved on. He did succeed in igniting some interest in Tiger’s basketball.

 

As a whole the ACC dropped from 3rd in the nation in average attendance to 5th, behind the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Big East. It was the only conference in the top five that had attendance decline over last season. That can’t be good for the new TV deal. Interesting to note that the teams at the bottom of the league in attendance are all expansion teams. Starting with Virginia Tech at 8th and going through to pitiful Miami, which has fewer fans than places like Oral Roberts and Evansville, it is a group of football schools. Not all that surprising I suppose.

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