“It’s exactly what Nick Saban has been saying.”

I don’t think this comes as any shock to a Georgia fan.

Attendance for the seven games run by the College Football Playoff dropped to an all-time low this postseason, halfway through the CFP’s initial contract that created the New Year’s Six games and the CFP National Championship. The attendance at those seven games were down a cumulative 42,500 fans or 8 percent from a playoff-era high in 2015.

That’s an average decline of 6,069 fans per game across the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, Sugar Bowl and CFP National Championship. A sellout crowd of 76,885 Monday watched LSU defeat Clemson at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the title game. That brought the CFP attendance total to 492,220, down 3 percent from the previous season.

For the fourth consecutive year, four of the seven CFP games decreased in attendance from the previous season…

Georgia and Baylor drew only 55,211 in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl. That was down 16,238 from the previous year’s game, another non-semifinal when Texas beat Georgia. The Georgia-Baylor game was the eighth-lowest attended Sugar Bowl since it started in 1935. Three of the lowest-attended Sugar Bowls since the early days of the game in 1939 have come since 2013.

Naturally, Baghdad Bill says there’s nothing to worry about.

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said the overall decline was not a concern.

“This is all best viewed in a game-by-game perspective,” Hancock told CBS Sports. “… Digging deeper into the game-by-game [attendance], the Sugar Bowl had a school with very small alumni base [Baylor] and Georgia had been to the Sugar Bowl last year.”

Overall bowl attendance is up, but then, so are the number of bowl games.  What the numbers suggest is that there is a hollowing out at the level just below the playoff games.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that suggests to Bill’s bosses.

22 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

22 responses to ““It’s exactly what Nick Saban has been saying.”

  1. Aladawg

    And from several friends attending the Sugar had more like 40-45 k attending. Remember 30,000 are guaranteed since the schools HAVE TO BUY 15k each.

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  2. Gaskilldawg

    If may suggest expanding the playoff so that 4 of the New Year’s Six host playoff games each year. I hope not. After 3 months of performance the 8th best team and 7th best team and 6th best team have proven that they are not contenders for the title of best team in the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chi-town Dawg

      +1 it makes absolutely no sense from a competitive standpoint to expand the CFP field, so the NCAA will of course do it for the promise of more money

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    • Russ

      Usually only 2 have a real shot, given the semifinal results over the past several years. This year there were 3 teams. We’ve never even had 4 solid teams that deserved a shot. Going to 8 will suck, but it will happen.

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      • Tony Barnfart

        Just to play devil’s advocate you could say that 2017-18 had 4 teams that deserved a shot, considering the title game was the 3seed vs 4seed with the 4seed winning the title.

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  3. Macallanlover

    I think it pales in significance to the overall attendance issue for live games. Additionally, fans have little time to make travel plans to attend bowl games which are not determined until a third of the way through December, could be at an unattractive location for their own personal reasons, and may occur during blackout times for flight deals, etc. The short notice also may conflict with long range plans for family trips during the holidays. There is no such excuse for regular season games which are scheduled well in advance. That is the fix needed that most threatens CFB.

    OT–Senator, not sure what happened but replied to a comment yesterday and received an immediate screen that said “sorry your comment could not be posted”. It was to your discussion with Anon regarding Kirby’s thinking. Had never seen that before, may have just been a glitch on the support site.

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    • Hmmm… don’t know what that is, Mac. Haven’t seen it myself and nobody else has reported it. If you see it again, let me know.

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    • Morris Day

      [i] There is no such excuse for regular season games which are scheduled well in advance[/i]

      Except game times.

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      • Macallanlover

        Well, those times aren’t announced for most games until 10-14 days in advance but few fans are having to make flight or hotel plans to attend, and they do not the date and opponent.

        If you mean the time of the game has a major impact on attendance, not sure I agree. There are plenty of supporters for both day and night games so I don’t see that as a big issue (although I wouldn’t take a seat on the 50 yard line in the September sun for 4 hours that was free and for the SECCG. Would be the same result as signing up for a free ride on the ‘lectric chair in Reidsville.)

        There is someone who will be there for everything, mine is just night games these days. I have never seen the numbers, but I bet there is higher “true attendance” figures for night games than day games in the SEC, confident there is for UGA—yes, you have to make some subjective adjustment for the opponent. But I feel the attendance problem is much bigger than game times for CFB as a whole. I mean they have great weather on the Left Coast, and apathy still reigns supreme. Breaking news: apathy is coming to a stadium near you—even in the SEC.

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        • Morris Day

          Yeah, I meant the announcement of game times, due to TV, having an impact on regular season game attendance. I do think it is a negative. Maybe not as much a factor as the short-fuse on bowl game announcements.

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  4. Bright Idea

    The entire major bowl system, to be kind, is clumsy. Conference tie-ins plus being wed to the CFP, by design, create attendance problems. What local neutral football fan is interested in the Sugar Bowl when the NC is coming 13 days later with the home team no less? The Sugar Bowl trappings felt like a forced act by their committee, nothing but an obligation. I believe Georgia fans would have traveled in droves to the Cotton or Orange, but no, the protocol dictated otherwise. Stupid.

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    • Remember the Quincy

      Agree re: Cotton or Orange Bowls. Yes, the issue with our offense created some apathy, but those are two bowls we haven’t been to in an awfully long time. Fan interest would have been much higher [especially for the Orange, I think].

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  5. Bigshot

    UGA’s performance the year before didn’t help attendance. Fans aren’t going to spend money if the players don’t care. Perhaps they should try to work out some rotating schedule where teams would not go to the same bowl in back to back years.

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  6. W

    Can’t see people traveling to 3 or 4 neutral site playoff games. Add in a neutral site conf champ game, yeesh. Maybe move the first 2/3 rounds to the higher seed’s campus.

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  7. duronimo

    I think it a convergence of issues. The playoffs have made bowl games less appealing. There’s more competition for the entertainment dollar. Huge TV screens at home have virtually eliminated the penalty of not being there in person. Add that to the growing complexity and expense involved in a trip to the stadium.

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  8. Tatum

    Playing in the Sugar Bowl used to be EVERYTHING for a SEC team and the fans of said team.

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  9. Cojones

    Sometimes the current news concerning the Dawgs can cause one to question why to attend. Day before the Sugar Bowl game, you posted the list of players not playing in the game that included 7 players out for “undisclosed” reasons. Six were on D. It looked as if we were going into the game with both hands tied behind our back. Should I attend with family to see a lackluster attempt to overcome the shitshow from the previous year in NOLA? The list you published convinced me to change plans and not attend, Senator.

    I continue to ask what “undisclosed ” meant and would like an answer, no matter the downer it promises to be. Dawgs not up to playing hard in the Sugar Bowl leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Only the fact that the Freshmen and Sophomores showed what they are capable of did I ever come back to the team. Taking first-time extended family attendees from Ca to sit through a downer after I had bragged upon our team for so long seemed out of the question after seeing that list.

    I still want to know what that “undisclosed” notation included. Does anyone know to any degree of accuracy what that means?

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  10. 79Dawg

    FWIW, we went to the Peach Bowl with wife’s LSU cousin who was in town. He was able to get tickets for us from LSU the week of the game, for face. There were about the same number of empties around us in the upper deck as their had been for the SEC Championship, which was surprising given the higher stakes (and i was surprised at the number of empties at the SEC Championship as well).

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    • Tony Barnfart

      Curious: are those empties that can be had outside the Benz 5 minutes after kickoff ? (or on secondary sites as they’re starting to let them remain after kickoff ?) Or are they just never used, never sold tickets that die in the abyss of apathy ?

      It’s just that one would think with a bunch of upper deck empties, even in a big game, that you could get a helluva deal 3 or 4 minutes into the game. If they’re available……something tells me those tickets never make it to the market.

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  11. Dawg on the Tracks

    We all including the Senator have bitched about the concept of students be charged athletic fund fees and get no tickets until they are juniors and seniors. For the Notre Dame students seats were cut. These are who will attend the Dawg games in the future. The Georgia Athletic Association is disconnected to all that not a McGillSociety member. I had tickets for 22 years and I had to give them up #1) a 3-1/2 hour drive to and from #2) tailgating has been basically took away unless you pay for the site all season. #3) donation money just for my 4 tickets got beyond my budget and time allowance. #4) motel and dinner reservations became a impossible task.
    I get the bigger and better attraction to more “Bling” stadium wise attracts more athletes. Donation monies covered most of the West End Zone project and the Payne indoor facility was a must from 15 years ago.
    As far as bowl games go I have been able to attend one Sugar Bowl and the HVAC units were closer than the players were. Bigger is not always better. The upper deck in Sanford is useless. If you gave me free tickets to the season I wouldn’t go simply because age is catching up and you can’t see shit. Used to walk a mile down River Road, then they started bus service, then parking decks and then no parking lots anywhere. We attended 2 games last year and paid $80 and $60 just to park.
    I am sure going to a Notre Dame and the Rose Bowl was a great treasure for most of ya’ll. I am not poor mouthing, I consider my monetary status upper middle but I just can’t do it anymore. Mortgage, college tuition and just the cost of living. The big business that TV has brought has priced the average family out of the stadium for regular season let alone bowl games. I was in Sanford for the first night game and before that I stood on the bridge and before that I have sat on the tracks. I bet many of you wouldn’t have done that, would you ? As far a 8 game playoff it’s coming but I bet you will be looking at NASCR crowds after they took their show to Texas, California and Vegas. You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time. A fool and his money is easily parted.

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    • Tony Barnfart

      I’m with you. Our family makes a touch over 200k per year in household income….. but with all the stuff that comes with kids, the idea that I’m going to pay $1,000 for a family of 5 to experience a decent seat for a decent game is kinda crazy. But where are we in 15 years when I’ve gotten used to not going ?

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