The NCAA released its annual look at college basketball attendance figures yesterday.
You can check out the entire report in PDF form. Or if you actually want to be able to use the data you can check out this spreadsheet that I posted with the 2014-15 and 2015-16 attendance numbers along with the year-over-year changes.
Yahoo’s Jeff Eisenberg did a good job at taking a national look at the numbers. I wanted to take a quick look at five attendance facts related to the NYC Buckets universe.
1) Siena ranked 87th in average attendance: The Saints are obviously really popular, especially for a MAAC team. Consider that Siena’s average attendance of 6,269 fans per game is only about 500 fewer fans that Saint Peter’s drew to Jersey City all season and you begin to get an understanding of the power of the brand. This is becoming old hat for Siena though. It is the 19th consecutive season in which the Saints ranked in the top 100 in attendance, according to the athletic department’s official Twitter account.
2) Monmouth showed winning helps: In terms of the raw increase in attendance year-over-year the Hawks ranked 10th in the country, as they drew 1,860 more fans per game than last season, more than doubling their average attendance. Winning obviously helps, as does an entertaining bench, but credit to the Monmouth athletic’s department for recognizing a good thing early in the season and really building that momentum through 13 home games. Not surprisingly, Josh Newman had a smart take on the numbers. Before this season the Hawks had never drawn more than 2,000 fans per game and this season it was more than 3,600.
3) Two NYC area schools saw large attendance drops, but it was out of their control: The news wasn’t all good around the city as two area schools had a few of the largest drops in overall attendance, at least in terms of raw numbers. Iona’s average attendance fell to 1,826 per home game. That’s about 800 fewer than an official sellout at the Hynes Athletic Center. Last year’s numbers were propped up by a home game against Niagara at Madison Square Garden. St. Francis Brooklyn saw a similar drop, but again it appears to be related to playing Central Connecticut at Madison Square Garden. The Pope Center is one of the smallest gyms in Division I and even selling out every game would’ve barely equaled the 2014-15 season’s average attendance of 1,111.
4) Mount St. Mary’s and Robert Morris keep bringing fans in: Those two NEC schools drew particularly well, especially considering the league finished last in average attendance. The Mount’s athletic department has capitalized on the team’s success to draw fans from around the area. Jamion Christian praised the school’s marketing after a certain NYC Buckets writer suggested on Twitter that there just wasn’t anything to do in Emmitsburg, MD. RMU drew 1,526 fans per game, up more than 400 fans per game over 2014-15.
5) Ivy League attendance remained mediocre: The Ancient Eight brought in an average of 1,763 fans per game in 2015-16, up 55 per game. That made the Ivies one of just nine conferences (out of 32) that saw average home game attendance increase. Still, they ranked 25th overall, behind leagues such as the CAA, Sun Belt, Big Sky, America East, WAC and MAAC. Part of that has to do with those eight schools playing in smaller gyms. Part of it has to do with fans not coming out until the 14-game tournament. Penn outdrew every other Ivy League school even as it struggled through a rebuilding season with 3,213 fans per game, which ranked 147th in Division I.
Attendance for NYC area schools (rank – school – avg. attendance – change):
- 71. St. John’s: 6,944, -7%
- 139. Stony Brook: 3,425, +16%
- 195. Fordham: 2,140, +14%
- 221. Iona: 1,826, -41%
- 237. Hofstra: 1,684, -8%
- 251. Wagner: 1,561, +0.5%
- 252. Columbia: 1,541, +0.4%
- 289. Manhattan: 1,265, -19%
- 301. LIU Brooklyn: 1,163, -10%
- 348. St. Francis Brookyln: 487, -56%