The rate at which college football tickets are being bought is falling at an historic rate.
According to a CBS Sports report, college football saw its largest per-game attendance drop in 34 years in 2017. Average attendance was down 1,409 per game — about 3.2 percent — compared to 2016.
The report also says the average attendance at a Football Bowl Subdivision game was 42,203, the lowest total since 1997.
NCAA attendance reports are based on ticket sales rather that a count of actual fans who enter a venue.
LSU’s average attendance in Tiger Stadium fell to 98,506 in 2017 from 101,231 in 2016 and from an all-time high of 102,004 in 2015. The 2017-2016 decrease amounts to about 2.7 percent.
In December, The Advocate reported LSU’s season ticket sales have dropped from a record high of 74,350 in 2015 to 71,800 this past season.
Soon, a guy in Oxford, Mississippi, will hit the “send” button on an email with more recipients than there are people in Baton Rouge.
University officials estimate that Tiger Stadium is, on average, about 80 percent full over the course of a season, and the same goes for the student section, Brian Broussard, the school’s assistant athletic director in charge of tickets, said in December.
Broussard said the school does not keep a record of actual attendance, something different than its paid and announced attendance numbers.
“If you look throughout the landscape of college football … totally across the landscape, the number of people attending games is going down,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said in October during a speaking engagement in New Orleans. “Attendance is going down. We have to do a better job of making fan experience at games more friendly so they want to come and stay.”
At LSU, there are two complaints yearly.
“Parking and traffic,” said Matt Shanklin, LSU’s assistant athletic director for marketing. “Those are (Nos.) 1 and 2 every year. It’s getting in and out. We can’t move the river, can’t move the campus to get it closer to the interstate.”
LSU has “ample” parking compared to other SEC schools, Broussard said. It’s the traffic congestion that is tough to fix.
Kardell Thomas shut down his recruitment two weeks ago.
They are trying. Broussard said the university has a quasi-partnership with Waze, a free community-based navigation app, to help with congestion around Tiger Stadium. Officials also plan to implement a scanning system for tracking parking. Downtown shuttles are eventually a possibility as well.
The fear of postgame congestion drives fans to leave early, something that’s become oh-so obvious over the past several years.
“The third-quarter exodus,” Broussard said, “is what we fight.”