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College football fan attendance declines; will it continue to decline?

College football fan attendance declined last year. Is it a sign of things to come?

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Avinash Kunnath: I know a lot of people are concerned that college football attendance might steeply decline in the next few years because it's better for a fan to stay home and watch games rather than deal with all the problems that ensue from a gameday trip (travel, traffic, hotels, ticket prices, sacrificing a Saturday, etc.). You can watch 5-10 games at home on a shiny HDTV and avoid all the hassles of trying to park in the Berk.

That being said, I don't really see attendance dropping that heavily off. There are 10% of people who will watch a lot of college football, 30% who will pay attention to their conference, and 60% who will generally stick to their own team. Those 10% might stay home a lot more but the rest will generally find a way to the game if their team is competing for something important (ASU and Furd both saw huge ticket increases this year).

Additionally, the Saturday gameday experience is generally a fun way to reunite with friends and colleagues and fellow Bears. There are few other events that can bring that type of community back together.

LeonPowe: I don't think so. I think the pendulum is going to swing back to attending live events. There's some things you can't experience on HD television - the atmosphere and pageantry of college sports is one. And it's only 5-6 games a year as opposed to 80 some baseball or 41 NBA games.

Leland Wong: Let's hope that one very very soon day, we'll all be so sick of staring at screens that fans will look forward to attending games instead of watching them on TV.

Vlad Belo: I don't know if this is a trend. Anecdotally, I can say that lots of people recoiled last season when the price of Ohio State tickets went up. (Face value for a single game ticket was $80 for most games, and over $100 for the so-called "premium" games.) Granted, it didn't really affect tOSU's attendance (or so I don't think). Maybe some college football powers are finding that there comes a point where fans decide that the cost isn't worth it when they can have a good viewing experience on television.

Ruey Yen: With all the talks of concussions and football not being safe, I am not sure the effects of parents not wanting their kids to play football have propagate to an actual decline in football attendance/viewership yet. In fact, football viewership may have stayed steady if not increased (at least when you are talking about the Super Bowl).

For the college game, a real problem has to do with TV taking priority in determining the logistics of the games. There are plenty more night games for Cal this past year and more weekday games for college football overall. It is simply cheaper and more convenient to watch games at home now given the various unique angles that is only available to the TV cameras (unless it's TV coverage of Colin Kaepernick and Nevada against Cal). Assuming that football doesn't die, I think the attendance decline (if real) will stabilize real soon.

Nick Kranz: I feel like fans have gotten a little savvier, and will no longer automatically pay to see body bag games. And teams can't (and shouldn't) take for granted large crowds just for having a team.

That said, good teams playing intriguing, meaningful games will always sell tickets. Cal will never fail to sell out Memorial Stadium for rivalry games that matter in the standings, and I suspect most schools not located in Palo Alto are the same way. Coaches and athletic directors simply need to do what they can to increase the percentage of games that matter.