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Illinois Football Attendance Woes

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Old Nov 13, 2012, 12:05 PM   #1
Dan
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Illinois' football attendance at Memorial Stadium has been in a steady dive since the 2009 (3-9) disaster under Ron Zook.

After this season's troubles, attendance will fall for the 5th-straight year in 2013. The question is, how low will it go?

Will Illinois football attendance in 2013 match the nadir of the past 30 years- 39,590 in 1998? (the season after going 0-11)


Average attendance in 2012 will end up being 45,000 or 46,000, depending on the final tally for the Purdue game.

2012 Illinois football home attendance:

Game____________Attendance
W. Michigan_____43,441
Charleston S.___45,369
LaTech__________46,539
Penn State______46,734
Indiana_________47,981
Minnesota_______46,912
Purdue__________40,000 (estimate)
2012 Average____45,282



Illinois football attendance, Ron Zook era thru the present-

Year___Record___Home Record___Attendance___MS Capacity___% Capacity
2012*__2-8______2-4___________45,282_______60,670________74.6%
2011___7-6______5-3___________49,548_______60,670________81.7%
2010___7-6______4-2___________54,188_______62,870________86.2%
2009___3-9______2-4___________59,544_______62,870________94.7%
2008___5-7______4-2___________61,707_______62,870________98.2%
2007___9-4______5-1___________54,872_______57,078________96.1%
2006___2-10_____1-6___________43,445_______69,249________62.7%
2005___2-9______2-4___________47,852_______69,249________69.1%

* Thru Minnesota game


Attendance numbers have fallen since the disappointment of 2008 (5-7) & accelerated after the 2009 (3-9) disaster-




2007 was the West Side renovation construction season (very few seats).

Even factoring in the smaller capacity of Memorial Stadium when the renovated stadium opened in 2008, and even fewer seats available when the south bleachers were removed in 2011, the attendance-to-capacity ratio still continues to plummet-




Too much bad football + too many loses + not enough wins against decent teams + too many home loss blowouts = Fed up fans.


Let's predict 2013 attendance!

2013 Illini Football Home Schedule
08/31___Southern Illinois
09/07___Cincinnati
09/28___Miami (OH)
10/19___Wisconsin
10/26___Michigan State
11/16___Ohio State
11/30___Northwestern


In 2012 there were 33k season ticket holders, plus an average of 12k single game tickets sold per contest.

Prediction time! In 2013, I'll go with season tickets dropping to 30k, and single tickets at 10k per game (thanks to strong B1G sales, especially Ohio State). Illinois will not drop below 40,000 average attendance in 2013. (Who says there's no optimism surrounding Illinois football? )

Last edited by Dan; Nov 13, 2012 at 12:08 PM.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 04:40 PM   #2
I Hate Lemonier
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Originally Posted by Dan View Post
Illinois' football attendance at Memorial Stadium has been in a steady dive since the 2009 (3-9) disaster under Ron Zook.

After this season's troubles, attendance will fall for the 5th-straight year in 2013. The question is, how low will it go?

Will Illinois football attendance in 2013 match the nadir of the past 30 years- 39,590 in 1998? (the season after going 0-11)


Average attendance in 2012 will end up being 45,000 or 46,000, depending on the final tally for the Purdue game.

2012 Illinois football home attendance:

Game____________Attendance
W. Michigan_____43,441
Charleston S.___45,369
LaTech__________46,539
Penn State______46,734
Indiana_________47,981
Minnesota_______46,912
Purdue__________40,000 (estimate)
2012 Average____45,282



Illinois football attendance, Ron Zook era thru the present-

Year___Record___Home Record___Attendance___MS Capacity___% Capacity
2012*__2-8______2-4___________45,282_______60,670________74.6%
2011___7-6______5-3___________49,548_______60,670________81.7%
2010___7-6______4-2___________54,188_______62,870________86.2%
2009___3-9______2-4___________59,544_______62,870________94.7%
2008___5-7______4-2___________61,707_______62,870________98.2%
2007___9-4______5-1___________54,872_______57,078________96.1%
2006___2-10_____1-6___________43,445_______69,249________62.7%
2005___2-9______2-4___________47,852_______69,249________69.1%

* Thru Minnesota game


Attendance numbers have fallen since the disappointment of 2008 (5-7) & accelerated after the 2009 (3-9) disaster-




2007 was the West Side renovation construction season (very few seats).

Even factoring in the smaller capacity of Memorial Stadium when the renovated stadium opened in 2008, and even fewer seats available when the south bleachers were removed in 2011, the attendance-to-capacity ratio still continues to plummet-




Too much bad football + too many loses + not enough wins against decent teams + too many home loss blowouts = Fed up fans.


Let's predict 2013 attendance!

2013 Illini Football Home Schedule
08/31___Southern Illinois
09/07___Cincinnati
09/28___Miami (OH)
10/19___Wisconsin
10/26___Michigan State
11/16___Ohio State
11/30___Northwestern


In 2012 there were 33k season ticket holders, plus an average of 12k single game tickets sold per contest.

Prediction time! In 2013, I'll go with season tickets dropping to 30k, and single tickets at 10k per game (thanks to strong B1G sales, especially Ohio State). Illinois will not drop below 40,000 average attendance in 2013. (Who says there's no optimism surrounding Illinois football? )
I think we drop to 38,000. I would have picked more toward 35,000 but we have some visitors who will bring big crowds. Ohio St, Wisconsin and SIU will help offset some of the losses but i think the bottom drops out for Illini fans.

Great post Dan and the charts helped illustrate the nose dive we have been on.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 04:47 PM   #3
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FWIW, these charts also demonstrate why Zook HAD to be let go.

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Old Nov 13, 2012, 05:34 PM   #4
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FWIW, these charts also demonstrate why Zook HAD to be let go.

The win/loss chart is also telling on why he had to go.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 08:49 PM   #5
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Is the bottom of the market even lower with every game on BTN, BTN alt, Espn/2?

How good does the product have to be to get people away from HDTVs?
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 09:09 PM   #6
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Is the bottom of the market even lower with every game on BTN, BTN alt, Espn/2?

How good does the product have to be to get people away from HDTVs?
Every game being on TV certainly doesnt help, but the product needs to be a consistent winner to fill the stands. Especially at Illinois where we have all become jaded over the last 20 years or so.

I'd say Illinois fans have been fairly resilient given the results starting with Tepper and ending through the Minnesota game this year.

104-151-2 Total

55-109-2 Conference
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 09:49 PM   #7
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Nice work, Dan.

I'd worry about losing more than 3,000 season tickets for next year. There's a lot of discontentment among fans. I think we lose something more like 5,000 season tickets. I think we drop below 40K average because of that season ticket loss, as well as particularly abysmal attendance for SIU (Labor Day weekend), Miami OH, and Northwestern (Thanksgiving weekend, for an Illinois team that will almost certainly be out of bowl contention at that point).

Also, aren't suites starting to come up for renewal? IIRC, a lot of them were 5, 7, and 10 year terms. Good luck re-selling those with this program. :laugh:
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 09:51 PM   #8
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Will Illinois football attendance in 2013 match the nadir of the past 30 years- 39,590 in 1998? (the season after going 0-11)
No, I don't think so. But 2014, I'm worried about. If the 2013 season is (as predicted) to be "worse" than this one , 2014 will drop below the nadir. Optimistically then, 2015 picks up.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 10:52 PM   #9
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I was there Saturday. 6 hour drive round trip. It's Champaign, it's the ILLINI.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 08:45 AM   #10
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Seems like every year Tate & Turpin interview the U of I ticket manager in late summer on their radio show. For the past few years he always says something like "We're at 90% of what season ticket sales were last season, so I think we are doing good".

Well I'm thinking if you keep losing 10% of your customers every year, pretty soon you'll be out of business. I don't see how that is doing good. Maybe it's all relative though and he means that it is doing good for Illinois.

But, as long as that $22 million TV check keeps coming in from the Big Ten Network Illinois really doesn't need to worry about attendance do they?

So, all you stay-at-homers-and-watch-on-TV'ers------thanks !! You are the real target market for Illinois football.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 08:55 AM   #11
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Pretty sad and I'm among the deserters. It is no mystery. You have to win and/or have an exciting product to get butts back in the seats and even then there will be a lag.

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Old Nov 14, 2012, 09:05 AM   #12
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Seems like every year Tate & Turpin interview the U of I ticket manager in late summer on their radio show. For the past few years he always says something like "We're at 90% of what season ticket sales were last season, so I think we are doing good".

Well I'm thinking if you keep losing 10% of your customers every year, pretty soon you'll be out of business. I don't see how that is doing good. Maybe it's all relative though and he means that it is doing good for Illinois.

But, as long as that $22 million TV check keeps coming in from the Big Ten Network Illinois really doesn't need to worry about attendance do they?

So, all you stay-at-homers-and-watch-on-TV'ers------thanks !! You are the real target market for Illinois football.
I think the idea is that the other 10% will trickle in.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 10:00 AM   #13
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But, as long as that $22 million TV check keeps coming in from the Big Ten Network Illinois really doesn't need to worry about attendance do they?

So, all you stay-at-homers-and-watch-on-TV'ers------thanks !! You are the real target market for Illinois football.
Attendance still matters. Tickets sales, merchandise, concessions, luxury suites, donations, parking are still worth 10s of millions of dollars. Our last two revenue coaches found out the hard way in part due to lagging attendance.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 10:25 AM   #14
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Attendance still matters. Tickets sales, merchandise, concessions, luxury suites, donations, parking are still worth 10s of millions of dollars. Our last two revenue coaches found out the hard way in part due to lagging attendance.
Not only that, but the struggles of most of the last 20 years have basically cost this program an entire generation's worth of fans. It's a small sample size, but our tailgate group started with about 20-25 season ticket holders when we graduated; 10 seasons later, it's down to 5 people.

There's very little attachment to the football program, except for a few of us die-hards (and the grads we know who aren't die-hards think that we're nuts for still going to games). This program is going to have a big problem when those people who graduated in the last 20 years get to be 40-50-60 years old - the prime "big donor" years, when people have the money to donate - and there's no interest in or association with Illinois football.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 10:27 AM   #15
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Definitely on the fence about renewing my seats. Probably will, because it's a nice excuse to go see my girlfriend.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 10:36 AM   #16
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Not only that, but the struggles of most of the last 20 years have basically cost this program an entire generation's worth of fans. It's a small sample size, but our tailgate group started with about 20-25 season ticket holders when we graduated; 10 seasons later, it's down to 5 people.

There's very little attachment to the football program, except for a few of us die-hards (and the grads we know who aren't die-hards think that we're nuts for still going to games). This program is going to have a big problem when those people who graduated in the last 20 years get to be 40-50-60 years old - the prime "big donor" years, when people have the money to donate - and there's no interest in or association with Illinois football.
This is a great point.

I was a kid during the Mike White years and have been hooked ever since. Those that have come along after my generation havent had anything to hook them. Two decades of awful football has caught up with the die hards like me and turned off potential die hards along the way.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 11:15 AM   #17
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The fans are out there, they just need to be given a reason to want to go to the games.

11AM starts, bad parking and tailgating policies, crappy football and an overall air of apathy and unfulfilled potential are not what the doctor ordered.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 11:19 AM   #18
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Not only that, but the struggles of most of the last 20 years have basically cost this program an entire generation's worth of fans. It's a small sample size, but our tailgate group started with about 20-25 season ticket holders when we graduated; 10 seasons later, it's down to 5 people.

There's very little attachment to the football program, except for a few of us die-hards (and the grads we know who aren't die-hards think that we're nuts for still going to games). This program is going to have a big problem when those people who graduated in the last 20 years get to be 40-50-60 years old - the prime "big donor" years, when people have the money to donate - and there's no interest in or association with Illinois football.
This is exactly what Guenther did not understand and why he had to go. We need to do it right and sustain a winning culture to get it back. And, people will return if we simply win... and win consistently. I'm not one of those that think Beckman is necessarily the wrong guy, even now. I am one that believes we will be set back even further if we don't let Beckman run the show without so much pressure for a group that is projecting their anger on the wrong people at this point.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 11:23 AM   #19
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This is exactly what Guenther did not understand and why he had to go. We need to do it right and sustain a winning culture to get it back. And, people will return if we simply win... and win consistently. I'm not one of those that think Beckman is necessarily the wrong guy, even now. I am one that believes we will be set back even further if we don't let Beckman run the show without so much pressure for a group that is projecting their anger on the wrong people at this point.
You've got it, Mike Thomas and Tim Beckman had a huge project in Illinois Football when they both got here. The attendance was dropping before either of them came. Why anyone can look at these numbers and even the product on the field and wholly blame both of them (TB shares some of the fault, he is the head coach) for it all is beyond me.

Culture change is painful and slow.

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Old Nov 14, 2012, 12:04 PM   #20
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I'm not trying to make excuses, but the crummy home schedule this year played a role too. The numbers will probably at least stabilize next year, although a lot of those will be Wisky, Ohio State, and Michigan State fans. That Ohio State game will easily outdraw any game this year.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 12:33 PM   #21
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I'm not trying to make excuses, but the crummy home schedule this year played a role too. The numbers will probably at least stabilize next year, although a lot of those will be Wisky, Ohio State, and Michigan State fans. That Ohio State game will easily outdraw any game this year.
We only got 55,000 for Ohio St last year for a 2:30 start and a team that was 6-0.

I would be surprised if we break 50,000 for any single game next year.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 12:38 PM   #22
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This program is going to have a big problem when those people who graduated in the last 20 years get to be 40-50-60 years old - the prime "big donor" years, when people have the money to donate - and there's no interest in or association with Illinois football.
I think 20 years might be a little too big of a window, but agree in principle. If you aren't a fan as a student, you likley won't be after you graduate.

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Old Nov 14, 2012, 12:51 PM   #23
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We only got 55,000 for Ohio St last year for a 2:30 start and a team that was 6-0.

I would be surprised if we break 50,000 for any single game next year.
Ohio State was also unranked last year. If they're top 5-10 next year (seems likely), you could easily have 10k+ Ohio State fans show up.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 01:20 PM   #24
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Ohio State was also unranked last year. If they're top 5-10 next year (seems likely), you could easily have 10k+ Ohio State fans show up.
Unless they play a NU, then the fans might have to choose going to Evanston or C-U.

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Old Nov 14, 2012, 01:30 PM   #25
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Ohio State was also unranked last year. If they're top 5-10 next year (seems likely), you could easily have 10k+ Ohio State fans show up.
I have no doubt that OSU will show up in huge numbers, its the Illini fans i feel wont be there.
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