COLLEGE FOOTBALL More bowl games, but smaller crowds
A record-setting 28 postseason games attracted the lowest average attendance since 1979.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
TEMPE, Ariz. -- More bowls, fewer fans.
That's the equation for the 2002 bowl season, which saw a record number of 28 postseason games. However, the average attendance for those games was the lowest since 1979.
An average of 50,575 attended games that ended with Friday night's Fiesta Bowl, which drew a sellout crowd of 77,502 to 73,185-seat Sun Devil Stadium. In 1979, 15 bowl games averaged 48,404 in attendance.
"I know the bowl directors are concerned, but I think you have to compare apples to apples," Big East Conference commissioner and Bowl Championship Series director Mike Tranghese said Friday. "The calendar was a week later this year, a number of the bowl match-ups didn't come together until the last week. You can't ignore the economy and the fact that travel is more difficult."
Last year's average
Last year's 25 bowl games averaged 53,392 fans. There were concerns a year ago that fans would stay home because of travel fears after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Rose Bowl had its lowest attendance since 1944, when 86,848 attended Oklahoma's 34-14 victory over Washington State.
"It's not something we're happy about," Rose Bowl Chief Executive Officer Mitch Dorger said Wednesday. "Oklahoma sold their quota [27,500 tickets] and 7,500 more than their quota. We basically sold all of those that are assigned here locally as well. So I don't think it's a local issue."
The Silicon Valley Bowl (Fresno State vs. Georgia Tech) attracted only 10,142 to 30,578-seat Spartan Stadium at San Jose State. That's the lowest attendance for a bowl game since 10,118 attended the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada vs. Ball State).
Nine bowls announced sellouts.
Eleven bowls announced increased attendance compared to last year.
There were 11 bowls with 10,000 or more empty seats. Last year only five of 25 bowls had 10,000 or more empty seats.
Of the three new bowls -- Hawaii, Continental Tire and San Francisco -- only the Continental Tire in Charlotte had a sellout. The Hawaii had 18,465 empty seats, the San Francisco 22,784 empty seats.