UTSA Football Attendance Issue
It should come as no surprise that there is a UTSA football attendance issue. Many seats were unfilled in 2019. Home games seemed quieter this past season and some fans seemed less interested. There are a couple of factors that can be attributed to UTSA’s declining attendance numbers. UTSA must fix this issue if they want to continue to be in NCAA Division One contention.
As determined by the NCAA and in accordance to NCAA Division 1 Bylaw 22.214.171.124 states that “Once every two years on a rolling basis, the institution shall average at least 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home football games”. This is a rule that exists through all NCAA football. Many big-time programs do not even need to worry about their numbers. However, schools in C-USA must be wearier and express concern about this number. While UTSA is one of the bigger schools in C-USA in terms of student enrollment numbers, they were below the 2018 average attendance for the conference. C-USA teams averaged 18,874 home fans, while UTSA averaged 15,925 home fans.
UTSA has had fluctuating home attendance numbers since 2012. UTSA averaged 18,850 home fans in 2012, however, the Roadrunners were able to increase their average to 19,664 home fans in 2013. At this point, attendance began to take a hit. UTSA averaged 17,358 in 2014 which is a difference of 2,306 fans. The next the team rebounded slightly increasing their average attendance to 15,352, an increase of 375. In 2017 and 2018, each season respectively averaged 15,557 and 15,925 fans which are slight increases.
Another unsettling statistic for UTSA is that in their first season they had an average of 35,521 fans with 23,438 of those fans coming from scanned tickets. Unfortunately, three years after their opening season, UTSA reported that average attendance was 28,672 with only 18,624 of those being scanned tickets.
The exact attendance of the previous 2019 season is unknown. However, according to UTSA’s Auditing and Consulting services, the met the required minimum attendance for the rolling two-year 2018-2019 cycle.
Why Are Numbers Declining
The most obvious answer to this question is that the team has not been performing well as of late. Attendance numbers take a hit when the team begins to perform poorly. For the past two or three years, this hit has come at the tail end of October and early November. Fans begin to show a lack of interest around this time.
Another reason for declining numbers is that the UTSA football stadium is not actually located on campus. The Alamodome is at best 12 miles from the school. This is a somewhat laborious drive around highways and heavy traffic just to get to the game. In combination with this, after having asked around, many of the students also disliked the bowl stadium atmosphere. They prefer the stadium to be located on campus as well as outdoors like the majority of college football stadiums.
The final issue for future attendance issues is the COVID-19 virus. Many fans who attend regularly may be disinclined to venture out of the house to see a game. Large crowds will be an issue moving forward. UTSA already teeters the line of attendance eligibility so the COVID-19 virus may make the situation worse.
UTSA needs the team to improve with the hiring of Jeff Traylor. He is looking to bring a new atmosphere and style to the Roadrunners to put them in bowl game contention.
Now finding a solution for the stadium issues will be more difficult. The clear answer would be to build an outdoor stadium near the main campus. However, UTSA is surrounded by lots of already built-up areas so this idea seems unlikely. Also, the university will not likely build a stadium for the program until there are obvious signs of improvement in the team’s performance.
Unfortunately, UTSA has very obvious attendance issues that must be corrected. The team and the university have big decisions moving forward in order to improve attendance. Unfortunately, if attendance is not improved, UTSA risks being relegated to Division Two.