Want the good news or the bad news first? The good news? OK, here goes.
Five of the ACC's nine bowl games this season -- Sun Bowl, Music City Bowl, Military Bowl, Peach Bowl and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl -- did well at the gate. Very well, in fact.
The 77-year-old Sun Bowl set an attendance record with an announced attendance of 54,021, a Sun Bowl Stadium sellout. Though I'm pretty sure this had more (much more?) to do with the fact that Notre Dame was playing in the bowl game for the very first time, and little to do with the fact that Miami was there.
This year's Music City Bowl between North Carolina and Tennessee also set a bowl-attendance record with an announced attendance of 69,143. It was the first time in the bowl's 13 year history that the in-state Volunteers have played in this bowl game. This was a virtual home game for the Vols, and the majority Orange-clad crowd wasn't very pleased with the game's outcome.
The Military Bowl drew just 38,062 for the Ralph Friedgen Farewell Tour, but that's still a bowl record, up nearly 15k on last year's crowd of 23,072 that watched UCLA top Temple 30-21.
The Peach Bowl always does well as the box office, and this year's Florida State-South Carolina game was no exception. The Seminoles and Gamecocks sold out the Georgia Dome for the fourteenth consecutive year, a big source of pride for the Atlanta Sports Council and the reason why the only possible way BC ever plays in this bowl is if the selection committee is forced to pick the Eagles. The announced attendance was 72,217, though that was down ~1,500 from last year's Virginia Tech-Tennessee bowl matchup.
Finally, BC's own Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl had an announced crowd of 41,063. That topped last year's crowd of 40,121 in our game against USC and is the second highest attendance total in the bowl's nine year history.
A closer look though reveals that three of those bowl games' attendance boom had a lot to do with the ACC's opponent (Notre Dame, Tennessee, Nevada), not the ACC team. The Military Bowl got a boost by having a local team (Maryland) send off their most successful coach in program history (an otherwise extenuating circumstance), and the Peach Bowl does well regardless of team.
Now, the bad news.
The Meineke Car Care Bowl between South Florida and Clemson drew just 41,122. That's the lowest crowd in the nine-year history of the bowl. What's troublesome is that Clemson is known as one of the best traveling bowl teams in the ACC, and Tigers faithful were asked to drive just two hours to Charlotte for the Car Care Bowl. I guess a 6-6 football team didn't really inspire the faithful to come out in droves for this one. In contrast, more than 70,000 tickets were sold to the ACC Championship in Charlotte not four weeks ago. For BC's two bowl trips to Charlotte,
Georgia Tech's Independence Bowl matchup against Air Force drew just 39,362 fans. That total was down a little over 10,000 from last year's attendance total for the Independence Bowl between Georgia and Texas A&M. The school was even offering discounted tickets priced at $14 in honor of Tech's 14th consecutive bowl appearance.
In the Champs Sports Bowl, N.C. State and West Virginia drew just 48,962 fans. West Virginia, which is known as a program that travels well, had 7,000 unsold tickets of their 12,500 allotment. The final attendance count was approximately 7,500 less than the 56,747 that showed up to watch last year's Miami-Wisconsin matchup.
Finally, this year's Orange Bowl crowd of 66,131 was actually an improvement on last year's crowd of 57,821.
As a conference, the league drew 470,083 to their bowl games, an increase of 7.5k year-over-year for the same bowl games. The 1.6 percent attendance boost in games ACC teams played in is better than the national average of 0.8 percent. So that's cool.
Of the ACC's bowl games, the Champs Sports Bowl and Meineke Car Care Bowl game attendance have to be two of the more disappointing showings for the bowl game and the ACC. West Virginia and Clemson, in particular, have strong travel reputations but didn't exactly come out in force to support their teams. The Independence Bowl's 10k drop in attendance can mostly be explained by the teams that participated in the bowl game (Texas A&M-Georgia last year, Air Force-Georgia Tech this year), though I'm sure Tech fans don't want to hear about getting outdrawn by uga.
Thoughts on this year's ACC bowl attendance, other than there are too many of them?
|Kraft Fight Hunger||41,063||40,121||942|
|Meineke Car Care||41,122||50,389||-9,267|