You didn't think we'd go the whole week without discussing the Pitt game attendance, now did you?
Last Friday night, Boston College hosted Pittsburgh in front of 30,083 people, the lowest attended conference game since the opening game of the 1992 season (Rutgers, 29,110) prior to the last Alumni Stadium expansion. Given the opponent,* timing (Friday night, 7 p.m.) and signs from earlier in the week (dumping tickets on GroupOn, BC's offer to STH for four free tickets), it was hardly surprising that BC struggled at the game.
But you'd like to think that the program could pack Alumni Stadium a little better for the season opener, especially coming off a 7-win season and a return to a third tier bowl game in Addazio's first season at the helm.
Boston College football's per-game attendance has been on the steady decline for several years now; something that deserves more in-depth analysis after the season is over. Though the factors contributing to the steady downward march in per-game attendance aren't confined to just BC, the problem is a multi-faceted one:
-- The biggest one, obviously, is that the program has been pretty bad over the last five seasons (compared to the 5-10 year stretch that preceded it). Don't underestimate the impact that the Spaz years had in turning away long-time season-ticket holders.
-- Product is overpriced. There's little value in being a season-ticket holder when you can get tickets for a fraction of the cost on the secondary market, the DBS requirement, tailgating permit costs, etc. Probably need to reassess per-game ticket and tailgating costs to correct for demand over the last five seasons.
-- Game day experience is lacking. Parking / tailgating is a hassle, concessions are inedible (#FireSesameSeedPretzels), Alumni is a black hole of cell phone reception, etc.
-- Proliferation of TV coverage makes it more convenient to stay home and catch a full day of college football action on the couch. These days you can catch every BC game on some sort of "TV," by the loosest definition of the word (read: ESPN3). That wasn't the case even a few years ago.
-- BC's agreement to host one Friday night home game a year probably isn't that great of a deal for the program, especially when you figure that the top three ACC draws out of BC's annual conference opponents (Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech) will never agree to play on the Heights on Friday night, while a fourth, Syracuse, will face BC on Thanksgiving weekend going forward (and has its own Friday night hosting agreement to worry about). That sticks BC with moving a game against Louisville, N.C. State, Wake Forest or [insert rando Coastal Division opponent here] from Saturday afternoon to Friday night, which, yeah.
-- Meteoric rise in popularity of the NFL over all other spectator sports, which affects all other sports, really, but effect is more pronounced with a substitute good and takes stronger hold in areas of the country where that substitute good was less entrenched to begging with, i.e. the Northeast
-- Introduction of a 12th regular season game and an annual FCS home game has resulted in fewer marquee non-conference matchups
Like I said, we'll let the season play out before delving into this more. Certainly more on this over the offseason.
The good news is that Boston College does have a marquee non-conference matchup this weekend in #9/#10 USC and attendance should bounce back as a result. With limited tickets still available earlier in the week, my guess is the game won't sell out -- after all, BC is pushing 40 home games without a non-Notre Dame sellout (Miami, 2007) -- but I suspect they'll come close.
There's the possibility of rain in the forecast, but with the primetime slot, the Welles Crowther tribute and some slick new unis, that might be enough to push past the 42k mark. I'm going to say announced attendance of 42,350, which will both please the administration and piss off the old-timers because there's no hope for the program if it can't sell out a home game against a Top 10 opponent on Saturday night. Now kindly remove yourself from my [3'x3' piece of Comm. Ave. garage] lawn.
* Setting faux Big East nostalgia aside for a moment, Boston College-Pittsburgh never really drew well in the Big East with respect to other conference opponents to begin with -- with only a couple games determining fractions of Big East titles. If I recall, per-game attendance for Pitt games was well below games against Miami, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, and only ahead of Rutgers and Temple.