Mar 7, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs fans in the student section shown in the game against the Kentucky Wildcats prior to the game at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia defeated Kentucky 72-62. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NCAA and Georgia Basketball attendance figures

NCAA home basketball attendance numbers are generally interesting, but not surprising. The attendance numbers for 2013-2014 Georgia basketball games are no exception.

Syracuse lead the country with 26, 253 fans per game. Kentucky (22/964 fans per game) and Louisville (21,282 fans per game) were close behind and I am sure the two fan bases are finding some way to are argue about it. As one would expect, North Carolina is next with 18,025 fans per game. Creighton, the Big East’s most western team, claimed the fifth spot with 17, 896 fans per game attendance.

Georgia basketball averaged 6140 fans per game, 9th best in the SEC and 84th in the country among Division 1 schools. The next highest in the SEC was Mississippi with 6875 fans per game and the next lowest in the SEC was Auburn with 5823 fans per game. Georgia Tech averaged 6584 fans per game. Some interesting names have attendance numbers similar to the Bulldogs – Seton Hall. Florida State, Penn State, Ohio, Richmond, Gonzaga and Temple had average attendance within 200 fans per game of Georgia.

Conferences ranked Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, SEC, Big East.

A quick study of the attendance numbers by conference and schools reveals very few surprises. Winning teams draw, traditional powers and powers with tradition draw, teams closer to the middle of the country draws, and teams in big the cities draw.

Despite geography, Georgia should have higher attendance numbers. In fact, even with Kentucky and Florida not making their usual visits to Athens and with a team that had more question marks than answers to open the season, season ticket sales were generally flat from 2013 to 2014. With a decent season ticket base, why did a team that won twenty games and tied for third place in the SEC not draw more fans?

First of all, unfortunately its basketball. Among the local citizenry, Georgia basketball ranks a distant fifth behind Georgia football, high school football, more Georgia football, and church activities. (This may sound like a punch line but it’s not – a Friday night Georgia basketball game in November is at the mercy of the high school football schedule. And this is still the Bible Belt.)

Feb 15, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; A general view of the game between the Mississippi Rebels and the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia defeated Mississippi 61-60. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 15, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; A general view of the game between the Mississippi Rebels and the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia defeated Mississippi 61-60. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Second, despite tons of promotions, the team just never quite connected with the students. This is a typical problem around the country. College demographics are changing and nowhere is that more clear that at the University of Georgia. The student body is approaching 65% women and 35% men. Higher admission standards coupled with more prestigious academic programs result in fewer legacy students. The typical Georgia student doesn’t show up for a basketball game.

Third, the team got off to a poor start. The team lost early games to start 1 – 4, including a third straight loss to Georgia Tech.

Fourth, the home non-conference opponents were not appealing.

What kind of attendance can we expect from Georgia fans next year?

In a word, higher.

With Kentucky coming back on the schedule, season ticket sales will get a boost. Early reports suggest the home non-conference schedule will also be more appealing. Also, Georgia won twenty games and played very well in the SEC in 2014. While student attendance is problematic, a number of new strategies appealed to students this past year that were successful.

Finally, Georgia Basketball has a new found stability. In fact, if you look around the SEC, Georgia boasts one of the most stable programs in the Conference. Coach Fox will enter his sixth year with a newly extended contract and the team returns eight of its top nine players – several of whom have become very popular with Georgia fans.

Just win, baby.

Note: NCAA basketball attendance is determined by ticket sales.

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