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How to fix Moby Arena's attendance woes: Part 1, Engage Students

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December 10, 2015


When the Whale is a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’.

Moby Madness is one of the most fun experiences in Colorado Sports; the students go wild and so do the rest of the fans, creating a deafening roar which overwhelms opposing teams.

But, save the sellout against Colorado on Sunday, there’s only been “Moby Sadness,” as in a sad, pathetic showing by the fans of Colorado State Rams men’s basketball.

23,435 people have shown up to see the green and gold on the hardwood this season, an average of 3,905 per game. Take away the sellout and Moby Arena averages 2,937 fans per game.


It’s hasn’t always been like this. Only three years ago during the 2012-13 season Moby Arena was home to four sellout crowds and an average attendance of 5,440 per game, which was the most since 1997-98. Even then – and in years since – fans don’t flock to Moby for non-conference games. It’s a problem that needs to be solved.

Sure, Wednesday’s night’s game was sparsely attended – a mere 2,523 butts in seats – but it followed a second half collapse against CU and featured a matchup against a DII team. Simply, it was a recipe for attendance disaster. But that doesn’t explain why fans haven’t come to the other four home games to this point.

For students – whose tickets are free – there’s not much of an excuse. OK, finals are next week and some were home studying Wednesday night. But less than 100 total students at the game? That’s atrocious. It’s embarrassing. And, for much of the 97-72 win over Arkansas-Fort Smith, Moby Arena sounded more like Morgan Library, quiet.

But, it seems for the millennials, just getting free tickets to a basketball game is not enough to push the students out their dorms and across campus, nor is it enough to get the other, off-campus students to Moby.

Simply, Colorado State must do a better job engaging students. Ram Ruckus has done alright, but if they want to step it up and really see a strong showing in the two student sections, the school should take a cue from (gasp) CU.

C-Unit is special, they’re loud, proud and rowdy. C-Unit is what Ram Ruckus needs to be, and the Ram fans have a long way to go to be that special.

So, how does Colorado State step it up?

First and foremost, the athletic department needs to give them a bit more funding. Without pointing fingers, someone involved in Ram Ruckus said they’re having trouble getting students involved and need ideas for working with a “limited budget.”

C-Unit has a deal with a local Boulder sub company which supplies them with pregame grub. Their budget is helped by the students purchasing tickets, which are $175 for tickets for both all CU sports. And the marketing department sometimes buys C-Unit pizzas to help encourage fans to come out, while they also supply the student cheering section with posters, big heads and printers for their “Buff Chips” pamphlets. Every game there’s a cheat sheet handed out and distributed to the student section which breaks down opposing players and sometimes have chants on them; what an easy way to organize a giant group of kids going crazy.


CU Athletics understands the C-Unit leaders are the bridge from the department to the students, so they give the leaders some guidance. The marketing department also understands they need to “let loose” – which is something Ram Ruckus hasn’t been allowed to do – with somewhat risque posters as well as tweets from the C-Unit account.


Look, students are the lifeblood of an arena, the rowdiest and wildest fans, the ones who push the others to get loud. Without a strong student presence, the rest of the crowd can be lethargic.

If Colorado State wants students to attend games – making Moby loud again – they should follow in the footsteps of C-Unit. College kids don’t want to just go to the game for the game, they want to total experience. Sharing in that with their friends, building new friendships and creating new traditions are special; it’s what Ram Ruckus needs.

What should also be clear here is this isn’t just a Colorado State problem – at CU, attendance has been low – other student sections across the Mountain West have suffered attendance-wise, too. As New Mexico journalist Geoff Grammer explained:

But, maybe SDSU and New Mexico’s student groups aren’t doing enough, either.

What can be said for sure is that Ram Ruckus isn’t doing enough because they don’t have enough support. They need to be let go a bit, allowing students go have fun, go a bit wild and party at Moby, while also supplying them with a bit more in terms of free food and cheering supplies like posters.

Moby Arena can still be a family friendly environment with loud students – it was in 2012-13 – and students have to feel welcome to let loose to give the Whale some Moby Madness once again.

(Parts 2 and 3 of this series coming in the next few days.)


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