While it's true that the Eagles were helped by quite a few Syracuse fans, the program did announce its first home sell out in 26 home games for Monday night's game with #2 Syracuse. You have to go back more than a full season to find the last time that the basketball program filled Conte -- February 19, 2012 vs. Duke.
Syracuse joins Clemson (x2), Duke (x5), Florida State, Georgia Tech (x2), Harvard, Kansas, Maryland (x3), Michigan State, North Carolina (x2), Virginia, Virginia Tech (x2) and Wake Forest (x3) #therivalry as programs that have sold out Conte Forum since 2005-06.
So what are we to think of the Eagles' first home sellout in over a year?
It's a start, but there's still a long way to go. Attendance at men's basketball games has dropped off significantly in every year since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005-06. Not coincidentally, this is also one of the reasons why the program may be looking for a new coach at the end of the season.
Red line = Average BC home attendance for ACC games
Orange line = Average BC home attendance for all games
Even with the sell out last night, the Eagles are still more than 500 per game off last season's 4,244 per game average. The primary culprits for this are games against Florida Atlantic and Philadelphia U. that drew less than 2,000 fans in total. The former was a Sunday night 8 PM start (1,653) while the latter a game against a Division II opponent (1,265). In fact, three of the four lowest attended home games since 2005-06 have occurred this season -- Sacred Heart (2,149), Florida Atlantic and Philadelphia University.
Of course, this downward trend for per-game college basketball attendance isn't a BC-specific phenomenon. Attendance is slipping in college arenas across the country. As technology improves and more games are being broadcast on television, there's less of an incentive to pay for a seat in the arena. Less than a decade ago, very few Eagles games were televised nationally. Today, fans can now just as easily fire up the ESPN3 feed of game on their laptop -- or follow along on Twitter -- while playing video games, studying or doing whatever it is you crazy kids do these days from the comfort of their couch in the Mods. Yet, the decline in BC's overall record and performance has taken an already down-sloping trend line and made that trend even more pronounced at BC.
With just six home games to go, the Syracuse sell out may not be enough to improve on last season's per-game home average average as the program has dug itself into a pretty significant hole this season. Having just four non-conference home games will do that. But hopefully the game is the start of a reversal of this negative trend.
If only the athletics department could capitalize on last night's success at the gate in the form of outbound marketing ...
Oh. That'll ... work, actually.