UGA bucks trend as college football attendance declines

Major-college football attendance declined in 2017 for the fourth consecutive season, according to NCAA figures released this week. 

Across the nation, average attendance for FBS games dropped to 42,203, down 1,409 fans per game – or 3.2 percent – from the season before. 

Average attendance per game has fallen in seven of the past nine seasons, dropping a total of 10.1 percent from a record high of 46,971 in the 2008 season, according to the annual NCAA reports

The NCAA’s figures for the 2017 season show the Georgia Bulldogs ranking ninth among the 129 FBS teams in home attendance with 92,746 per game, same as the year before. That figure reflects sellouts of all games at 92,746-capacity Sanford Stadium. (UGA and most colleges announce attendance as tickets sold or distributed, and no-shows are not deducted from the NCAA figures.) 

Georgia Tech drew an average of 46,885 per home game, down 618 per game from the 2016 season, and Georgia State averaged 15,833, up 730, according to the NCAA figures. 

The SEC had the highest attendance of any conference, averaging 75,074 per game, but that was down 2,433 per game – 3.1 percent — from the year before. 

College athletics officials have fretted about attendance challenges in recent years, citing a number of factors: inconsistent kickoff times that are tailored to TV networks rather than fans in the stands; the comfort and convenience of watching games on big-screen high-definition TVs at home; declining student attendance that leads to declining young-alumni attendance; and unappealing non-conference matchups. 

Nationally, the drop of 1,409 per FBS game in the 2017 season was major-college football’s largest decline since 1983 and the second largest decline in any season since the NCAA began tracking attendance in 1948, according to CBSSports.com

Attendance for games across all divisions, including FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III, totaled 47.62 million in the 2017 season, down 1.69 million from the 2016 season, according to the NCAA.

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