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SEC attendance numbers

I’ve been reading for the past couple of weeks how football attendance numbers are down. It is an issue not just at Kentucky, it’s everywhere. In particular, this article by John Pennington at says that empty seats are a problem all across the nation. He says the economy, rising ticket prices, and television deals are making it less appealing to actually go to football games.

So that got me thinking. Maybe Kentucky’s football ticket sales woes are more than just fan disappointment in the head coach? Maybe when compared to their conference foes, Kentucky won’t look too far out of line? Don’t count on it; wishful thinking on my part. When comparing each SEC teams home opener attendance numbers to stadium capacity, Kentucky ranked dead last. And it wasn’t even close.

EDIT: Corrected an error that had Tennessee playing NC State at home. That game was played at a neutral site in week one.

The Cats played Kent State, arguably one of the “better” opponents any SEC team played in their home opener. Aside from Texas A&M who opened against Florida, or Vanderbilt who faced South Carolina, Kentucky played one of the better teams of any SEC school in their home debut. No argument can be made that the opponent kept the fans away from Commonwealth Stadium. If Mississippi State can show up for Jackson State, Kentucky can show up for Kent State.

Kentucky’s numbers look better on paper than it did in person. Against the Golden Flashes, the lower bowl of Commonwealth Stadium was full, but large patches in the upper deck were completely vacant. The 48,000 in attendance culminated in the smallest crowed Commonwealth Stadium has seen since 1999.

I set out looking for a possible excuse. Not to bail out Joker Phillips or the football team, but some other explanation of low fan turnout for a season opener. But it’s not happening. It’s not the economy, opponents or television deals keeping fans away. It’s their own football team they don’t want to see. That’s a big problem Joker is now facing head on.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

35 Comments for SEC attendance numbers

  1. Billy
    1:05 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Thought UT / NC State was in Atlanta?

  2. Jack
    1:06 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    This is a terrible and absolutely innaccurate “study”. Tennessee did not in fact play their first “home” game at Neyland Stadium as indicated in this post. This game was played at a neutral site in the Georgia Dome located in Atlanta, GA. This revelation of new information puts UK dead last in the SEC. Once again, you twist the actual numbers and doo poor reporting in order to put UK in a more positive light. Embarassing on your end. Good try though.

  3. JohnnyReb
    1:07 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    *Tennessee played NC State in the GA Dome, not Knoxville.

    *Do a little more research before posting

  4. KSR Editor
    1:13 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Good job….good effort….

    Now get me some coffee and never post again….embarrassing.

  5. Jordan
    1:13 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Damnit Stuart, Tennessee played NC State in the GA Dome.

  6. Long slow trombone sound...
    1:14 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    The more thing change, the more things stay the same here at KSR football commentary.

  7. UK EX
    1:19 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Just go ahead and take a lap Stuart.

  8. dave
    1:22 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink


  9. [email protected]
    1:25 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Come on Stuart. This is sad. KSR should hire me.

  10. btowncatfan
    1:28 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Fact is UK has a bandwagon/fair weather football fan base. We have about 40,000 football fans. That plus the student section is the crowd from Saturday. There are other reasons people don’t support Joker. Use your imagination as to the reasons.

  11. Bicycle Seat Sniffer
    1:29 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Bobby Budnick and Donkeylips would say Stuart has been roasted, toasted, and burnt to a crisp based on these comments.

  12. wubwub
    1:35 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    The actual number for Tennessee’s home opener was 87,821, which gives a % to capacity of 85.7 percent. It’s worth noting that this was against an FCS patsy, Georgia State, and that Tennessee is currently sold out for their upcoming game against Florida, despite Florida returning a significant number of tickets.

  13. thenamerobdigity
    1:39 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    whoops ……….

  14. MtnCat
    1:40 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Quit piling on. It’s not easy writing about Kentucky football.

    Or getting facts right.

    Sometimes you get what you pay for.

    I like the idea of being better than Tennessee, good try Stuart.

  15. Wow
    1:40 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    “No argument can be made that the opponent kept the fans away from Commonwealth Stadium.”

    Is there anything worse than amateur hour at KSR?

  16. tltaworl
    1:42 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Stuart, did you give Corey your log in info again?

  17. Stuart Hammer
    1:47 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    I’m an idiot who can’t fact check anything, ever.

  18. Stuart Hammer
    2:01 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    I know everyone was really upset about my fact error. I was sure to correct it. Now you can read the post again and be sure to understand it clearly, because it was so confusing before.

  19. cats1068
    2:01 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    After Auburn plays their home opener, UK will be dead last on that list. People have had enough of this nonsense.

  20. dick gosinia
    2:05 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    You can take the attendance figures with a grain of salt. I watched the GA-Buffalo game and there were several sections in the corner that were empty. At least 3-4000 seats in my estimation. It may have been a sellout but there were lots of fans dressed up as empty bleachers!

  21. Dr. Funke
    2:06 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    This fanbase used to be known for its support for the team even when the team was bad. Guess those days are over, it’s sad really.

  22. Dan
    2:09 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    This shows that at least this cat did not watch the football game…Im sure he’s posted about it else where though.

    Might as well go ahead and edit this whole post before it makes this site look even more ridiculous.

  23. Coach Durbin
    2:21 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    10) 100% agree! Despite the fact that everyone talks about how we “pack the stadium” UK has a medicore at best football fanbase. If we ever get an administration that will reinvest in football, I think we should take the capacity of Commonwealth DOWN by adding a “club seating” area in the current section between upper and lower levels. Fact is, our fanbase cannot support a 67,000 stadium

  24. AFBlue
    2:25 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Those attendance numbers for other schools are wrong. UGA had mostly an empty upper section. Everyone lies about actual numbers.

  25. Yngvie Maumsteen.
    2:26 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    More embarrassment for the UK FB and Joker.

  26. Rockfield, KY
    2:33 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    We supported the 67,000 seat stadium fine when we were winning and fun to watch from 2006-2008. It’s just that when you have the best basketball program in the country, it’s hard for people to temper their expectations for the other major sports at the university. The statement about having 40,000 consistent fans that attend games is correct, and it’d be 40,001 if I lived closer, but when the team is good and winning they can sell out. Commonwealth is a fun place to be on a Saturday night when the CATS are playing quality games and making it interesting. Even if you don’t win, just don’t get blown out or lose with a boring offense and terrible defense to a mediocre team.

  27. stan
    2:42 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    # 26 hit it on the head for me. It has never been about the win’s and losses. Sure,I would like for us to be top 10, but as long as we put a entertaining team on the field that doesn’t give up, I will support them. Can anyone say we had that last year? Boring is being kind for what was on the field last year. The players follow the coaches play calling and game style.I hope Joker proves all of us(including me) wrong,but until we play a good team and win or at least stay close, I will remain skeptical.It’s not all Jokers fault,but a lot of it is…and he is the coach so he is responsible,good or bad.

  28. Beavis
    2:56 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Has nothing to do with the size of the stadium. As for the fanbase,,,,Alabama has no problem putting 101,000 people in Bryant-Denney in Tuscaloosa which is maybe 1/3 the size of Lexington. What is the difference ? You can figure that out.

  29. Baghdad Mitch
    3:00 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    All is well, nothing to see here, please move along.

  30. HackRichards
    3:39 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    DUH ! It is Obama’s Recession Period. No one has any money to spare. EVEN at the grade school level where I work no one is coming to games and NO ONE is buying concessions. Pure Economics. Food Stamps cannot legally be traded for tickets!

  31. yabba do
    3:50 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    The product on the field is a direct result of the effort put into football by the Administration. The fans are finally letting them know that their piss poor effort isn’t going to be tolerated any longer.

  32. Oh for the love of God...
    4:03 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    There are certain facts we need to face about UK football:

    1. The recent stretch of bowl appearances is about the best it gets with this football program.
    2. Our ticket prices are in the bottom tier of the SEC.
    3. We have a mediocre facility that is aging.

    So…why do we think UK will be any more competitive than what they’ve been? Those 19,000 people either thought that we’d turn into Florida or LSU.

    This program has mostly been a 4-5 win program for much of its history. Why do we now think it will be otherwise? Having 48,000 folks on a great evening for football is not the way to make the case that we need a new facility. Ticket prices won’t go lower.

    We are what we are and will always be.

  33. bige
    6:18 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Mediocrity breeds indifference.
    Basketball is too good now to worry about football. Football was great when Tubby and BCG were making mediocrity the status quo.
    Compare the basketball opener attendance last year and those great football teams don’t exactly get crazy about their mediocre basketball.

    Fans want chest thumping greatness and greatness breeds fanatics.

  34. carnifex
    8:27 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    Somebody left the computer unguarded at the asylum again. #32 The people staying away do not think Joker is turning into the second coming of Bear Bryant. They just want to see the UK administration try. As it is, if we we’re plating Pop Warner(and at times it looks like we are) we wouldn’t even get a participation trophy.

    What we know is that if we get extremely lucky and get several(not 1 or 2) diamonds in the rough, with good coaching, we can play, compete with anybody. That’s what the Brooks regime did for us. It took away the reasons people like you use to say, “We can’t” Guess what chowderhead…we did! We beat #1 LSU. You remember that? Where you out of diapers by then , or in a drunken stupor?

    The reason we won was the once in a lifetime class of great players buying into good coaching. Since that time, we have been last or next to last in every recruiting class in the SEC. Since that time, the head coach retired because he was tired of the UKAA lying to him about improving the facilities. Since that time we have hired a first year Goober to be our coach in the toughest league in the country, and he has replaced almost all the coaches from those halcyon days(I know it’s a big word…look it up) who has replaced almost the entire staff.

    UK has a choice. They can man up, nut up, and get serious about football. Or they can wipe the SECstains off their lips, wipe their knees off, and ask the rest of the conference “Please Sir, may I have another” We know which way you want to swing. Most of us are manlier than that.

  35. jaws2
    8:54 pm September 12, 2012 Permalink

    #34, +100 on your take! Oh, and I was there Sat night as I have been since the place was built; NO WAY was there 48K there.