Greetings Fellow Jackets,
I know the topic of attendance comes up from time to time. Our rivals like to tell us that, at a seating capacity of 55,000, our stadium is "high school" sized and that we don't regularly fill it up.
Well I came across this article and checked out the numbers.
First, you need to understand that Georgia Tech has a well-documented scheduling irregularity between odd numbered years and even numbered years. Average home attendance rises by around 5% in odd numbered years, because our biggest rivals (Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Georgia) come to play us at Bobby Dodd stadium. In 2012, the only big name we got to play at home was Miami. Tech tries its best to add an interesting non-conference opponent to boost the sales in even years, but no one is as interesting a matchup to Tech fans (and Atlantans in general) as Southeastern schools like Clemson and Georgia. So adding BYU in 2012 didn't garner that many extra sales.
Additionally, as you all are aware, this was a bad year for Tech football in terms of early losses. That means fewer fans will show up for the later home games. Tech experienced a tumble of 9% from attendance figures last season (an odd number season.)
Surprisingly, in 2012 Georgia Tech still managed to average just shy of 44,000 fans per game. How does that compare to the rest of FBS in 2012? It is only about 1,300 fans shy of the average 45,274. There are still plenty of FBS teams that would kill to get 44,000 people to one of their games. And, remember, this was very much a down year with a tough-to-sell schedule.
I find hope in that realization. Is 44,000 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium going to look bad on TV? Yes. It's 11,000 shy of a sellout crowd. The last stadium expansion added about that number of seats. Think about that. 44,000 fans would have been a near-sellout crowd just ten years ago! I think Tech fans lose perspective being surrounded by rural SEC neighbors that dominate attendance figures by being the only headline entertainment in town for the last 100 years.
Well, let's check in on those neighbors, shall we? The nearest rival (Georgia) made a convincing title run for the second straight year and still experienced a minor drop in home stadium attendance from last season. So did mighty Alabama in one of their best years. FSU lost 3% in their best season in a decade! This indicates to me that there are factors at work outside of just winning for most Southeastern college football teams. Those factors aren't in Tech's control, and they probably have an amplified effect in the saturated Atlanta sports entertainment market.
In closing, Georgia Tech football will get an attendance increase next season just from it being an odd numbered year. Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Georgia will come to town to play the Jackets. That's usually good for anywehere from a 3-5% increase in attendance. The rest will be up to our sports information department to spin the news of solid practices, the impending defensive coordinator hire, the T-Day game (an event that gets bigger and better every year), and any hype from a possible bowl win over USC to sell tickets in the offseason. While you shouldn't expect sellout crowds at Tech until we get a couple wins over Georgia and maybe another ACC Title, you don't have to sit idly by and listen to people who make it sound like the sky is falling at Georgia Tech. We've still got a healthy fan base and a fun place to come watch some good, Southern college football on Fall Saturdays!
The number one way to get a better following has nothing to do with winning - the fans have to be fun and make it a good time. So stay positive, and Go Jackets!