With so many unknowns heading into the fall for the Syracuse Orange football season, it can be anyone's guess what kind of fan turnout we can expect for the six home games in the Carrier Dome. While some may think a new coach may attract larger crowds in his first season, only once out of the previous three Syracuse coaches were the attendance higher than the season before. Having said that, fans should look forward to an increase in attendance this season for three major reasons.
1) It really can't get any worse than last season.
This is the most obvious reason from the bunch. Last season was the lowest attended football season in Carrier Dome history. That's right, even lower than the final season of the Greg Robinson disaster. With interest in attendance at an all-time low, it stands to reason that the only direction is up for next season. Syracuse offers some of the most affordable tickets in major college football and if you combine that with a new brand of football, attendance should increase out of pure curiosity if nothing else.
2) Law of averages
Syracuse has a slate of games that have drawn well in the past 10 seasons. Aside from Virginia Tech, every team on the Orange's home schedule has been in the Dome at least once. I took the average attendance of each Syracuse opponent over the past ten years in the Dome and here's what I found (I didn't go any farther than 10 years back because frankly, teams older than that were a completely different program than where Syracuse football is today).
Colgate: Played in 2010 in front of 38,068 fans.
Louisville: Played five times in the Dome in the past ten seasons averaging 37,448 fans.
South Florida: Played four times in the Dome in the past ten seasons averaging 39,978 fans.
Virginia Tech: For arguments sake, I will take the lowest attendance from any of the games I averaged (32,917 fans against Louisville in 2008), although I would anticipate that a former Big East foe whose games were well-attended will draw better than that.
NC State: Drew 40,787 fans in 2014.
Florida State: Drew 43,295 fans in 2014.
While there are many different factors that play in to attendance, if the Orange can at least match these numbers attendance will be significantly up by season's end, averaging 38,748 for the season. That is a 6,000 fan increase from last season, and would be a great first step for the Dino Babers era.
3) Fans Spoke, University Listened
I was a huge fan of Scott Shafer, but many Syracuse fans were not. Like I said above, the last time fans spoke this loud with their actions via attendance was the final season of the Greg Robinson era. If history repeats itself, attendance should increase due to the university listening to the fan complaints. When Doug Marrone took the reigns of the program, fans were less than enthusiastic about an unknown coach. Despite the lack of enthusiasm attendance jumped by a significant amount for a 4-8 team. With more known about Babers than Marrone, and with the program in a much better place as a whole than in 2009, one should anticipate an increase in fan support as well following the change.
There are so many factors that go in to the attendance for football in the Dome. I believe for the reasons stated above, Syracuse football in the Carrier Dome should be looking at at 4,000-plus attendance boost by the end of next season. Throw a little winning football in there, and the increase could be even more significant.