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Slack-ing off: What to do about Syracuse (and overall college football) attendance?

Did someone say Mini-Kiss? No? Well okay then.

Clemson v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

As the Syracuse Orange football team continues to work through spring practice we turn our attention to the 2019 season and a topic familiar to us: attendance. As this story from Dennis Dodd explores, attendance is an issue across the country.

Even though the ACC was the only P5 conference to see an increase it’s a trend that administrators across the country are worried about. Dodd looks at Virginia Tech and Texas and steps they’ve taken to address the in-game experience so we discussed some ideas for Syracuse in our internal Slack channel.

With a lot of activities scheduled for the Clemson game, what else would you like to see Syracuse do for the 2019 season?

John: I’ve already stated that we should’ve spread things out. But minus that, inviting former football greats for appearances, providing free stuff, enticing students to attend and engaging local youth sports organizations are all ways to get more people in the door. Millennials (of which, I’m one) want to have experiences. So give them as much by creating digital tie-ins (with better Wi-Fi too), activities around food, beer and music, and push discounts for frequent attendees/season ticket-holders.

Kevin: Well as Matt McClusky has pointed out previously this is the 60th anniversary of Syracuse’s National Championship squad and since that team played Holy Cross let’s plan a big event when the Crusaders come to the Dome. I’d also suggest that the Orange leverage their business partnerships into promotional giveaways for each home game. To be more specific, I’d work with the corporate partners to scrap their in-game commercials and instead put their logos on apple picking bags and mini-rakes.

Andy: Going to games doesn’t just mean going to the game. It means making the atmosphere on and around campus so much better than the atmosphere you can create at home. There’s something going with how the Quad is getting revamped into the prime pre-game spot, but right now it’s a bunch of replicating an in home experience communally. I could get the same feelings at my favorite bar. How do we step this up to a level that feels like a unique experience? One idea is more special timed activations before the band performs. Whether it be alumni athletes, utilizing mobile app technology for check in raffles and AR, or creating some kind of tailgate environment, this year is the best year to try and build that on campus feel of a football school.

Once “The Stadium Project” renovations are complete in 2020, what would you like to see Syracuse do to improve the Gameday atmosphere?

John: Food/drink tie-ins and better ways to reduce lines for concessions and crowding in the concourse is a plus. Improved Wi-Fi is essential, and as many tie-ins to program traditions as we can muster would do a lot to make everyone feel like they were part of something bigger. On-campus tailgates are largely impossible, but just making sure there’s enough going on in the Quad to get people over there before games is a capable substitute for that.

Kevin: I’m going to say that what Virgina Tech has done with Enter Sandman is where Syracuse needs to take advantage of the sound and lighting upgrades scheduled. Andy brought up the “Who’s House? Our House!” as being something that the Orange could run with and that you could creatively incorporate this into a pregame video.

Or we could go in another direction and incorporate new lighting and have The Pride of the Orange play this song to introduce “Babers Club”. Imagine a packed Dome raising their arms in unison to the music as the new and improved lighting flashes......

Ok, this might be pushing it but I’m not giving up on my dream...

Overall the atmosphere inside the Dome needs to be less commercial and more focused on raising and maintaining the energy level. We’ve got a coach and system to be exciting so let’s not suck the life from the crowd with endless promotions in every break of the action. Oh and the food options need to be improved too.

Andy: Bouncing off of Kevin, I just feel that we need to make the Dome feel electric on non-big plays. The energy definitely drops pretty much any time a whistle blows. Most venues I’ve been to combat this with an in stadium presentation that constantly has highlight videos and hype videos playing, and then “brands” those with advertisements so you still get that revenue money. The social media department has been KILLING it with videos. Bring those into the stadium.