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The O'Leary Expansion and Attendance Stuff

George O'Leary always wanted Bobby Dodd Stadium to be bigger. He got the Institute and Athletic Association to rustle up $75 million dollars, which renovated the Rusty C and added the 15,678 seat North Deck. The addition was completed in 2003 and saw the Dodd's capacity increase from 46,450 to 55,000 over a three year span. The capacity was initially lowered to 42,000 for the 2001 season. Chan's inaugural season added 1,719 more seats in front of the Wardlaw Center. And in 2003 the grand North Deck was opened creating a full 55,000 seat stadium. The capacity has been met or exceeded 9 times in 42 games since 2003 (Auburn '03, Miami '04/'06, uga x 4, Clemson '05, and Notre Dame '06). In sell outs, Tech is 3-6.

I've collected attendance figures since the start of 1996 because started keeping stats in 1996 and I can't find another accurate source for attendance figures. So all data will be pulled from there. Here are the average attendances over the past 13 years of home games:


Now, the crazy part, to me, is that we haven't really fulfilled the expectations of O'Leary and whoever decided to increase our capacity by roughly 9,000 seats. In fact, if we take the average ticket sale to be around $40.00 per seat in the upper North Deck and do a little more math, we see some poor accounting. From 1996, we averaged 43,936 per game. Since 2003, we've averaged 49,874 per game. An increase of 6,478 butts in seats per game. This all leads us to a rough increase of $12,000,000 in revenue since 2003 from ticket sales alone. These seats are not Tech Fund, either. I'm sure some of the 272,000 bought SOME concessions but a base increase of only $12,000,000 in ticket revenue over 6.5 seasons ain't too great when the initial investment was $75,000,000.


I'm assuming the idea was to bolster Tech's national status but did we really? We increased our place in the ACC from seventh to sixth (pre-ACC expansion) so it's not like we overtook our conference rivals in terms of stadium size. Maybe the number 55,000 sounds just a little bit better to recruits than 46,450. Beats me.

Here are some other interesting numbers about Bobby Dodd attendance since 1996:


There are three tables merged on that last image. The first list is sorted by name and it includes individual teams, Thursday Night Games, Homecoming Games, SEC Average, ACC Average, All I-A OOC Games, and I-AA games. The second part of the list is sorted by attendance average and this list does not account for the fact that our capacity changed four times since 1996 so Auburn is tops with a lone sellout in 2003. Finally, the last table within the main table is the % capacity list and Georgie is #1 here just like preseason last year. In case you didn't notice, all of the SEC teams are high except Mississippi State (an outlier in other ways as well).


The chart above is a graph of travel distance in miles (x axis) and attendance at Bobby Dodd (y-axis). This is based on 2003-2009 data. It's essentially a graph to show who "travels well" and who doesn't. If you're below the black bar, you don't "travel well" compared to GT's other I-A opponents. You're "below average" for how far away your campus is from Georgia Tech. The BDS linear trend (black bar) basically states that the base attendance is 52,898 people but you lose roughly 4 fans for every mile your opponent's campus is away from BDS. This system is slightly biased towards teams near major cities as I'm assuming most VT alum/fans don't necessarily live in Mountain Village Hell (or Blacksburg as they call it in Virginia).

Thoughts are welcome.