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Moby sadness: CSU men's basketball attendance well below DI average in 2015-16

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June 9, 2016


Ram Nation wants their beloved Colorado State University to move up and into a Power 5 conference.

With the move to a Power 5 would come an opportunity to compete for a National Championship, to earn much more money through television contracts, to be seen on a national stage against other Power 5 teams on the football field every Saturday.

The Big 12’s expansion talks were enough to leave Ram fans hoping for a jump up, but it looks like the conference won’t expand for now, leaving CSU stuck in the Mountain West.

And, while there were many factors to be considered when thinking of Colorado State as a potential expansion candidate, an important one was likely attendance.

CSU Football’s average attendance hasn’t been great as of late, even with winning football being played — and three straight bowl appearances — at 24,917 per game in 2015. Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium holds 32,500 fans, meaning nearly one-third of the stands were empty on average.

Even worse has been attendance to Colorado State Rams men’s basketball games.

In fact, last season was one of the six worst for home attendance at Moby Arena. The average of 3,853 fans per game was one of only six years since Moby opened (1966) in which less than 4,000 were at The Whale per contest. It was also a down year compared to the season before, in which 4,854 attended on average. (Numbers can be found here dating back to 1993.)

Last season’s 3,853 per game was well below the national Division I average of 4,744 and CSU came in ninth of 11 Mountain West teams, only ahead of San Jose State (1,647) and Air Force (1,476). Talk about Moby sadness, not Moby madness.

Only three years ago, Moby Arena was rockin’ seemingly nightly, selling out three times while setting a 10-year high for attendance with 5,440 people per contest. Here’s a look at the last 10 years’ average attendance at Moby:

2015-16: 3,853, 2014-15: 4,854, 2013-14: 4,186, 2012-13: 5,440 per, 2011-12: 4,193, 2010-11: 4,879, 2009-10: 3,392, 2008-09: 3,257, 2007-08: 3,353, 2006-07: 4,621. Over the last 10 years, the average per game is 4,203 and Moby’s capacity is 8,745, so, there are regularly more empty seats than filled ones.

Simply, those numbers aren’t befitting a Power 5 athletic department and larger numbers of Ram fans must show out and show up to Moby more often.

What can the school do to increase attendance at Moby?

First and foremost, they can do a better job of engaging students. Ram Ruckus has whispered about big things coming this fall, we’re excited to see what they’ve thought up in order to get more students out to games. They’re free, both football and men’s basketball — among other sports — for full-time students to attend. Yet, they don’t want to.

Another way to get more fans to games is by selling beer at Moby. While the new on-campus football stadium will sell beer — and full strength instead of just 3.2 like at Hughes — Moby doesn’t. When we reached out to the school last fall/winter asking why this is, no one could come up with a definitive answer.

Finally, CSU can see increases in home attendance by adding better non-conference opponents (those are parts two and three of the three-part series which was paused due to the lack of info. on beer sales). Joe Parker has begun to help in that area, scheduling a home-and-home with Arkansas, while CSU “hosts” Kansas State at Denver’s Pepsi Center this December. They’re steps in the right direction, sure, but hosting teams like Long Beach State and other obscure schools isn’t going to help drive fans to campus and the stadium.

Of course, the No. 1 factor when it comes to attendance is winning, as evidenced by the 2012-13 season’s numbers. That year, CSU cracked the Top 25 for the first time since 1954 in arguably the greatest year of Rams men’s basketball ever. The team went 26-9 overall that season, including a 1-1 record in the NCAA Tournament, and lost only once inside the friendly confines of Moby.

Still, fans can’t expect that type of success every season. If fans really want their school to move into a Power 5 conference, they’ve got to support the teams in person more. It’s as straightforward as that.



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