College football, in general, is going through a peroid of declining attendance. This has been brought about by a variety of factors, but the most obvious is the proliferative and pervasive availabilty of games available on commercial, cable and pay-for-view television channels.
And its not just a regional pattern. Attendance decline at football is pretty consistent and not concentrated to any one area or areas of the country. Despite this downward trend, the football attendance figure for Big 12 schools was not as bad in 2012 as in other BCS conferences.
Six of the 10 conference teams experienced gains in average per-game attendance between 2011 and 2012. Texas’ Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium holds 100,000-plus and is the largest football facility in the Big 12, followed by Gaylord Family-OU Memorial Stadium, home to the Oklahoma Sooners, with a capacity of around 85,000. Both the Longhorns and the Sooners posted attendance gains year over year, but only slight gains, largely because both teams regularly sellout their football stadiums for virtually every game.
Measured on the basis of percentage gain in attendance in 2012 over 2011, TCU recorded a significant increase in average attendance this past season, up 37 percent to 46,000 per game, because of stadium rennovation that added an upper deck and increased the capacity at Amon C. Carter Stadium by 10,000. TCU’s 37 percent increase this past season was one of the country’s highest attendance gains.
If you haven’t been to or seen the newly rennovated stadium at TCU, make a point of attending a game there if you can. The design is very modern and very inviting and is a sharp improvement over the previous design. From a design and appearance standpoint, I think it is one of the nicest, if not the nicest, football facilities, irrespective of size, in the Big 12.
Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas State, all with stadium capacities that range from 52,000 to 55,000, also experience slight gains in average attendance (three percent increase) this past season. And in the case of Kansas State, that number is expected to rise again in 2013 because of new stadium construction that will improve and enhance the game experience for the fans and moderately increase the capacity at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Among the improvements as part of the $75 million construction project is an all-new press box that will now extend the entire length of the field.
Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Kansas all posted attendance declines this past season compared with the 2011 season. In the case of Baylor, whose average drop in attendance year over year was only about 200 people, the absence of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III could have had something to do with it. It was surprising to me, though, that the attendance at Oklahoma State and West Virginia was lower than the prior year.
A couple of plausible explanations could be that Oklahoma State was the Big 12 champion in 2011 but tied for third in 2012; West Virginia was playing for the first year as a new member of the Big 12 in 2012, and the fans may not have been as drawn to watching teams from the Big 12 as they were the more familiar and more proximal Big East teams.
Kansas had the biggest home attendance decline, with an average of 1,000 fewer fans showing up to watch the Jayhawks play last season vs. 2011. Not at all surprising considering that wer’e talking about KU football not basketball, which is king at the school, and that Kansas has not won a conference game in two seasons and only two in 34 games dating back four years.
If you are an avid Big 12 sports fan, you can keep up with all the latest news on your favorite team or teams at FanSided only website devoted entirely to Big 12 sports news, Talking12.com.