Crowd size, again

I was disappointed but not surprised that there were fewer than 9,000 at the game last night. A couple of factors unrelated to performance held attendance down IMO:

If you live anywhere in NWA other than south Fayetteville, getting to a 6 p.m. game by tipoff is virtually impossible. What is normally a 25-minute drive for me in moderate traffic took 55 minutes last night. And because my wife and I still work, leaving earlier isn’t an option. The SEC Network has done Arkansas no favors with the 6 p.m. starts. It was also Wednesday, and there are a fair number of people who will opt for church over basketball.

I also think Saturday’s disappointing loss may have discouraged some fans from making the effort. That’s too bad, because the game was one of the most entertaining I’ve seen in the last couple of years. Folks who skipped missed out.

And, I also think that the constant drumbeat of negativity (despite this team having its best 22-game start since the late 1990’s) has depressed attendance. Casual fans don’t want to go to the trouble of attending a home game if they think they’re just going to be disappointed with the result, in some cases even if we win.

Can’t do anything about the negative natterers. As you can see today, they will nit pick anything even after a 19-point conference win over a team who was above us in the standings. This is not a great team, but it is a good one, and better than all but about four of them since our 1995 final four appearance. I’m enjoying watching it get better.

The environment in Stillwater for 12-8 OSU seemed far more intimidating through the television screen.

Agree, but it was a full house in a very intimate arena on an emotional day (remembering the 10 killed in the plane crash).
The 6 p.m. tips kill the crowd, I agree. Wouldn’t have been full anyway though.

I was at the game in Stillwater too. The atmosphere was Barnhill-esque. GIA an arena with a small footprint, so even the upper deck seats are pretty close to the court. I was eight rows up in the upper deck and was closer to the court than my lower bowl seats in Walton Arena.

OSU’s student section was big, loud and intimidating. They came prepared, complete with a newsletter handed out with some less-than-flattering facts about selected members of our team. (Hence the “Funny Money” and “Big 12 reject” chants at our players).

The remembrance of the 10 killed in the plane crash may have had something to do with the atmosphere. I suspect the 9-0 run to start the game and our inability to do anything to stop them had more to do with the environment than that.

Two somewhat contradictory ideas.

One, you hope to goodness we get to the tourney this year, and then actually win a game. End the season with some momentum that recruiting should only enhance. Then, go a step further next year. It is going to take years to build back the game-by-game fanbase to fill BWA but it could happen. Well, 16K-17K, anyway.

Two, you finish your RRS project and turn to BWA and do the same thing. Rethink the arena. Drop 2K seats in favor of some loge boxes, or whatever. Make it a destination. More seats with HDTV of other games, maybe. The arena can be plenty loud as we all know. It can be a gauntlet for opposing teams. Need to get it there more regularly, and architectural help might be the ticket.

to let season ticket holders give them/sell them to students if they cannot make the game? Need a dedicated board, not something like this or another forum where a student or local can search and be sure to find available tickets. Not a ticketmaster or stubhub, but something more geared to get an enthusiastic student a seat. Might be contagious or infectious for rousing the crowd.

students tend to want to go games that can’t seem to find a ticket for.

The students are not coming close to filling the seats that are assigned to them now. Everybody who bought the student pass for football season can get in free for basketball and there are lots of seats, both lower bowl and in the upper deck at one end. But they’re not showing up. Even the Florida game wasn’t really close to full. They would show up for UK, but UK ain’t coming here this year.

The hogs could win out and still get snubbed. The NCAA tournament has become the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and Big East invitational. The national sport writers hate the SEC! South Carolina got snubbed last year we got snubbed a couple years ago so don’t be surprised. A Mid major or a lust later Michigan State or Indiana may get in and leave us out. We better win out and get to that championship game of the SEC tournament. That is the reality of the SEC!

Loge boxes will not make it more intimidating; probably the opposite. Capacity adjustment might be in order though, although if you only get 9000 through the door, the only thing that would fix that is going back to Barnhill. They already plan to rework the concourse and tweak things so that BWA can host concerts. A nicer concourse might help (and is also part of the RRS plan). Don’t think the concert refit will make any difference on game night though.

I just shake my head. Our fans seem to want:

  1. 7 p.m. tipoffs. 8 is too late, 6 is too early. Or Saturday afternoon.
  2. Power 5 opposition, but not just any Power 5 team. It’s gotta be somebody really good. We got 14000+ for Wake Forest, which is in the ACC for cryin’ out loud (and that was our same team that beat Kentucky twice and reached the NCAA second round). When we played Dayton two years ago, coming off their Elite Eight team (and headed for the Sweet 16 that year), we got about the same crowd we got last night. Because they’re not Power 5.
    And if it’s not both 1 and 2, we get crowds like last night.

Agreed! This team is what I think is the turning point in our program this year and with the next two recruiting classes coming in, will blend with some great players left to continue moving towards a top ten program! Once there, recruits across the country will once again start looking at Arkansas as a choice for noteriety and a chance at getting a NC under there belt! My point is, this is the year its starting to happen and the fans should take part in it! Might be a couple of heart breaking losses ahead, might be a unbelievable finish and post season run ahead also, but one thing for sure is Arkansas is on their way back towards the upper echlon in the country and its starting this year! I hope the fans buy in and dont miss it and become the sixth man on the court! That in its self could propelll this team to greatness! WPS!!!

I’m done stressing about crowd size, it’s bothered me for years but the only thing that will change it is being consistently back in the top 20. I personally think we are headed in that direction.

I really think the biggest problem with attendance is because of the inconsistent start times. We used to have a token couple of weekday games at either 6pm or 8pm but 90% were at 7pm. I honestly can’t remember the last 7pm start we had. The 6pm starts are especially bad because the population has grown so much over the last 20yrs, where you used to have no problem getting from Bentonville/Rogers to Bud Walton in 20-30mins, it’s now almost an hour and when every game is on TV, some people just don’t want to deal with that headache.

Build it and they will come. That means you need to win some big games, especially at home. Beating Florida in the SEC opener would’ve gone a long way but instead it reinforces to the casual fan that we aren’t back yet. I remember under Pel when we beat OU and Blake Griffin then beat TX a few days later, it was the most excitement there had been since Nolan. Then we packed 20k in for the SEC opener against Mississippi St and got run…everyone knows what happened after that. Still some “fool me once…” skittishness with parts of the fanbase.

My uncle is an Okie State alum and goes to lots of games. He said that attendance has really been down for them this year and the Arkansas game was an aberration. He said it sold out because of the anniversary of the crash. They are having the same problems we are and they have a much smaller arena.

To be fair, the Florida game was during the semester break. SEC schedule makers did us no favors by 1) putting our best home conference game in late December, and 2. Not sending Kentucky to Fayetteville this year.

This, of course, is nonsense. But I get your overall point. However, if our RPI stays in the 20’s, we’ll get a decent draw.

This is true. I had forgotten that. Not only semester break, but up against the bowl game (overlapped just about the first half of the hoops game). Given that, I thought the crowd was actually pretty good, except for the students.

The Florida game was scheduled long before the bowl game was announced, but it was during the semester break. Tough luck there. I do know some people who decided not to go in the third quarter of the football game. They were just depressed. I understand that.

I don’t like playing the conference games until the first week of January in basketball. I know the Big Ten does it. Maybe other leagues. But it’s a mistake. It would be a mistake had Arkansas beaten Florida.

I think Florida was pushed up because of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge; something about the scheduling there required some teams to start SEC play before New Year’s. Maybe it was because NYD was on a Sunday. I know not everyone had opened their conference schedule before NYD, but I’m not sure if the late starters were the ones not involved in the Challenge. If you play two games a week, an 18-game SEC schedule takes nine weeks, and that’s what you have this year between NYD and the SEC tournament. Throw in the Challenge game, that becomes 9.5 weeks and you get to start early.

What fans want is a consistent winner. To fill up the Bud, or even come close, they have to be more consistently good. You can’t tell from game to game if they are going to play well or come out and lay an egg. Since Mike has been coach, it seems like anytime we have some momentum and are on the verge of expanding the fan base, we come out and lay an egg. If we had beat Miss State, the next home crowd would have been larger. If we had beat Ok State, we would have had 2,000+ more people at the game. People have to have a reason to believe and we can’t seem to sustain the momentum to make that happen.