AL.com broke down the attendance figures for the 2012 college football season and found that the FBS national average of 45,274 was the lowest since 2003. Whether that's due to higher ticket costs, TV and Internet access, lack of quality home games or a culmination of all three, who knows.
As for the Syracuse Orange, despite winning two more games than last season, home attendance dropped 6% to 37,953. This takes into account the five Carrier Dome home games and not the USC game at the Meadowlands, though it's not like the 39K at that game would have helped much. (2012 Attendance Report PDF here).
Syracuse football was plagued by a few different things. There was a decided lack of enthusiasm by a lot of fans going into the season. And by the time the team got clicking, they had already played most of their home games. The lack of a showstopper opponent in the Carrier Dome certainly didn't help and neither did the multiple Friday night games.
Of course it unfortunately means that home attendance numbers have taken quite a tumble. In 2009, Doug Marrone's first season, SU jumped all the way up from 33K to 39K. In 2010, we inched up to 40,064. In 2011, we held steady at 40,504. And now, just as the program seems to be turning a corner, the attendance slides back down.
The Dome was filled to 73% capacity in 2012 compared to 82% capacity in 2011. When you put it like that, you can see how significant a drop it was.
DOC Gross seems fine with sacrificing local attendance for national visibility. I wonder if he's still okay with that if the bottom line is being affected.
As for a look at the rest of the Big East and where Syracuse fits attendance-wise...
1. Cincinnati -- 29,138 (-10%)
2. Pittsburgh -- 41,494 (-10%)
3. Syracuse -- 37,953 (-6%)
4. Temple -- 26,580 (-5%)
5. Connecticut -- 34,672 (-5%)
6. South Florida -- 44,130 (-1%)
7. Louisville -- 49,991 (+3%)
8. Rutgers -- 49,188 (+12%)
Next time Rutgers fans tell you they're not bandwagoners, remind them of that stat.
BC Interruption did a breakdown of the ACC schools that includes Syracuse and Pitt. We'd basically be in the same spot in terms of attendance trending.
So what can Syracuse do to combat the trend? The move to the ACC should help just because it will be a chance to see some brand new opponents in the Dome. That will be helped further if Florida State or Clemson comes to the Dome, likely bringing a ranked team with them. They'll need a strong conference slate to offset the arrival of Tulane and an FCS opponent in the non-conference schedule. And of course, SU heads into 2013 with the momentum of a good 2012. A win in the Pinstripe Bowl could drive that momentum even further.