For many schools, Friday night games are the enemy.
Fans that travel long distances are forced to take extra vacation time. Students have class the day of the game. The parking situation is a nightmare in the changeover from cars parked for work versus cars parked for tailgating. It shortens the gameday experience (for some). Unless it's a nationally-televised game, the majority of fans would prefer a Saturday afternoon or Saturday night kickoff in the fall.
In 2014, the Orange had two Friday night games. Week one against Villanova, the announced attendance was 41,189, good for the second highest attended game (on paper) for the 2014 home schedule. The other Friday game against Louisville drew 37,569, good for the lowest attended home game on the schedule.
Last season, Syracuse's lone Friday home game was against Rhode Island brought in a modest 30,112. That was behind the LSU game, Clemson game, and (barely by 205 people) Boston College game.
So how will the attendance figures shape out for Fridays this season?
With the first game of the Dino Babers Era being on a Friday night, I'd expect that game to be relatively well-attended. History has shown that when there is interest in the football team, they usually draw pretty well on opening day. This certainly is the case heading into this season, so we should see fans in the stands September 2nd.
But what about the Louisville game?
I've already gone on record declaring the Louisville game the most important game of the season. But I have a better chance of winning one of those games where you guess the number of gumballs in a fishbowl than being able to accurately predict the attendance.
On one hand, a Friday night game can eliminate a lot of the excuses some people use to stay home. The games take too long, they take up the entire day, and they kill your entire Saturday. While these are all reasons I love going to Syracuse football games, a Friday night game is like an extended happy hour for the casual fan. You show up to tailgating after work, go to the game, and can be in bed by midnight with your entire Saturday ahead of you the next day.
On the flip side, Friday night games can make for late nights. How will this affect younger kids and families? Will they consider staying home and waiting for Saturday games to avoid keeping the family out so late? And what about fans that travel? With a third of the home schedule being Friday night games, do they pass all together on buying season tickets and only buy single game tickets for the games they're able to attend?
All of these factors affect the attendance number, so you can see the dilemma. I pose the question to you: How will the two Friday night home games affect attendance this season? Will it take a convincing win in week one in order to draw for week two?