I agree the #1 reason for lower attendance is covid. None of my friends went this year bc we all have young kids who can't get vaccinated yet. I do wonder if the numbers represent actual attendance or "tickets sold." I have 3 season tickets but attended none, similar to many of my friends.

As for increasing attendance, there's really only one way: win and they will come.

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As it turned out I only attended three games in person this season - Nevada, Wazzu, and SC. Two were painful losses. Looking around, it seems the crowds were smaller than the announced figures. Winning games obviously will help with attendance, and the demise of Covid someday. Also, since every game is now televised there is less incentive to attend. Obviously if the commissioner can re-negotiate the TV contracts to increase the pool of money this will help offset athletic department expenses.

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Great analysis! I share your optimism for next year, particularly with the better home schedule in even years (and us not contributing to Stanford’s numbers via the Big Game on the Farm).

UCLA was certainly propped up by its LSU game (ESPN reports 68k in attendance). The Hawaii game the week before was as sparsely attended as a 2020 game.

Meanwhile, Utah expanded their stadium capacity by 13% (45k to 51k), which fits with their attendance increase. Being good surely helps too (expert-level insight).

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Covid combined with possibly a perception (hopefully false) that the on-the-field product is stale and tapped/capped out. We should get a bump next year with the Wilcox news and a better home schedule, but that will be short-lived unless we can show we'll be competitive from the jump. We traditionally get off to a fast start and then underdeliver. This year was the reverse and that lackluster start really killed interest. We also now have to factor in wildfires. Not an issue last year, but air quality has affected at least a few games over the past 4-5 years, and unfortunately is likely to continue to be a regular fall tradition.

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I don’t think Covid had much of an affect on attendance. In fact, people were excited to get back to normalcy after a year without being able to attend a game, especially early in the season. Pac12, like all conferences, sold their soul to the networks, and the affect on attendance is not at all surprising:

• Not setting game times until 12 or even 6 days before kickoff. People need to be able to plan. If the gametime isn’t set, people will prioritize other events, family activities, etc. It’s like asking a girl out but not telling her what time you’ll pick her up until the day of your date. If you’re not going to commit to her, why should she want to go out with you?

• Too many night kickoffs. Before moving back to the Bay Area 15 years ago, I used to drive down from the Folsom area with my young kids, rarely missing a game. There’s no way I could do that with so many 7:30 and 8pm kickoffs, as I wouldn’t get home until 1:00am at the earliest. It’s also tough on octogenarians who don’t want to be driving that late.

• Waiting too late to set the schedule. Kudos to the Pac12 for announcing the 2022 schedule last month. In recent years we’ve had to wait until February or March. As a result many people are unable to schedule their vacations around Cal football games. (September and November are great months to visit Europe, but generally you have to book your trip many months in advance.)

• We’ve already lost a generation of potential fans owing to the above reasons. The biggest hit on attendance as a result of whoring to the networks is the inability of young families to attend games. My kids, now all in their 20s, love to go to games because it’s in their DNA. Kids who have grown up in the “networks first” era, have never had the game experience, have no desire to go, and won’t be bringing their kids to games.

Priority 1 for George Kliavkoff in the next TV deal should be to allow the conference to have greater control of scheduling, especially kickoff times. If the basketball schedule, with 3X as many games, can be set, including tipoff times for all but a couple of games, why can’t they do it for football? Given that it’s a zero sum game, I doubt all the last-minute jockeying to select games makes any difference to overall viewership for each network. I also think it would be easier/more efficient for the networks to move their resources as necessary if kickoff times were set earlier.

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The kickoff times is a double edged sword. If the conference wants the money that ESPN or Fox wants to shell out, it has to play at in the 10:30 or 11pm ET window, and play on Friday nights too. The P12 is not popular enough to take the prime time national slots from the B1G and SEC. If the conference wants day time kickoffs, ESPN and Fox won't pay nearly as much to televise since the games will be buried on ESPNU or FS1/2.

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Some friends in our ticket group did not attend due to COVID concerns, but there were so few fans that social distancing was organic. Even U$C had entire end zone sections without fans. Positive note: the student section was 80% full for many games, compared to 2019 when Section T fans had to help with card stunts. A 2nd year student said he was excited for his first season.

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There is a cumulative effect of fan-unfriendly events in recent years (clear bag non-sense, body scans at some Pac-12 venues, price gouging on tickets and especially parking, and hotel prices, ever more Pac-12 looong looong after dark, and on it goes), which was significantly exacerbated this year by a widespread move to e-ticketing. I wound up in position of trying to get a surplus ticket to an attractive OSU home game (Utah), a Cal game (OSU at Cal was not "unattractive" at the time), and the LA Bowl, and I couldn't give them away (never mind resell them). Multiple people who historically would have been reasonable possibilities stated that its too much hassle, and they just weren't going to deal with it.

I do know it was a source of stress (ever try to get adequate connectivity anywhere near most stadiums on game day), in part due to terribly written apps, every week, and sometimes worse.

Some may scoff at this (including, as we have found out, athletic ticket office personnel who dismiss complaints and requests for relief), but for a significant number of the customer base that is none too large and shrinking, its real.

This was the latest in a recent run of things (some of which noted above) where the attitude has become clear that college football fans will put up with anything and everything, and some more susshine pumping is all that's needed to get tickets sold. Evidence is clear that is not the case.

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