ACC Attendance Declining

I have written several articles lately about ACC officiating bias.  Here is an article that talks about how ACC basketball game attendance is dropping.  IMO the two subjects are related.  The article explains:

As a whole, the ACC is averaging 9,406 fans through Wednesday. It would be the lowest average for the league since the 1984-1985 season and the first time it has been lower than 10,000 since the 1988-1989 season. If those figures don’t drastically improve, it would be the fourth consecutive year the ACC’s attendance numbers declined.

The ACC and Pacific-12 are the only leagues that have seen their attendance figures drop in every year since 2008.

Not only do we seem to have Pro Wrestling-like predictability when it comes to officiating and outcomes, we have a Pro Wrestling-like storyline cultivated throughout the season by ESPN, culminating every season with the ridiculous overhyping of the two (or three if they get their wish) UNC-Duke matchups.  This hyperfocus comes at the expense of the rest of the league and the long-range viability of the ACC basketball product itself.

One way to evaluate how the league’s fans as a whole feel about the ACC basketball product is to look at the demand for ACC Tournament tickets.  As recently as ten years ago an ACC Tournament ticket book was a hot item.  Twenty years ago there were none to be found on the open market, and hadn’t been for decades.  Today, you can’t even get face value for them.   

Perhaps there are other reasons for the ACC basketball’s growing attendance crisis, but IMO this trend will not reverse until referee bias is dealt with and each school is treated equally by the ACC office.

About Rick

1992 and 2002 graduate from NCSU. Born and raised an NCSU fan. I remember the good ol' days and they weren't in the last 20 years.

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35 Responses to ACC Attendance Declining

  1. Dreadstone 02/28/2012 at 11:20 PM #
  2. Oldwolf 02/28/2012 at 11:22 PM #

    John’s 1st two in his list are the biggest IMHO

  3. choppack1 02/29/2012 at 12:08 AM #

    I don’t know about the hdtv and internet argument…seems like every sport out there faces that challenge.

    Actually went to duke-wake game tonight, and a friend and I were discussing how baseball demanded a more consistent strike zone in recent years. Basketball simply needs to demand more consistentcy from officials. Unfortunately, they simply say there is no conspiracy, as a result, officiating is not a problem.

  4. youchuck1 02/29/2012 at 12:30 AM #

    Well, I agree that not only ACC basketball but all college basketball has fallen. I don’t buy the conspiracy argument ( I mean did Swofford make State hire Sendek and Lowe?) There are four areas I think that have lead to reduced attendance/interest in the product:

    1)The one and done athlete. We don’t get time to “know” the players and follow them as we used to, or even as we currently do in football. How many times when you are watching a college football game you hear a player’s name and think “That cats been in college for 12 years”.
    2)The ACC has been hurt by awful head coach choices. Even Carolina fell victim of this in the short lived Matt Daugherty era. The current crop of coaches falls way, way, short of the quality of coach in the Big East.
    3)There are too many damn games on TV. It’s a diluted product. Aside from UNC/Duke, neither ESPN or CBS promotes a game that demands national attention until March Madness. College Football has a lot of games on TV as well, but there are only 12 games per team. Maybe the ACC should not carry every game on TV. I mean was anyone dying to watch Maryland/Wake Forest? In the past only the “marquee” matchups got televised. Even in the old Thacker/Packer days, you saw the ACC’s best teams every weekend. The only time “bad” teams were on TV was when they were getting pounded by David Thompson and NCSU or losing to Carolina. Coach K had a good idea. He thinks the ACC/ESPN should have a 7pm weeknight game followed by an NBA game, promote it as ACC/NBA night. The ACC game would be a marquee game (i.e. K means Duke/UNC probably) . I think this could create some buzz.
    4) The tournament for the most part renders the regular season meaningless. The national media doesn’t really begin paying attention until March Madness. The backing up of the Superbowl has also hurt, when the Superbowl was played in late January, the Saturday of the AFC/NFC Championships which fell around the 11th to 15th of January was always the “kick-off” of national coverage. NBC in the 70’s and early 80’s always hyped this. Now with the Superbowl played in Feb., the media’s attention is only focused about 3 weeks of regular season play. The opening of NFL free agency will get more coverage on ESPN than the opening round of the tournament probably. To make the season more important and more exciting to watch, limit the field to 48 teams.

  5. ryebread 02/29/2012 at 10:14 AM #

    Gene: I agree with a lot of what is in your post, but wanted to comment on this statement

    “BC fired Skinner for whatever reason their crazy AD had.”

    BC’s AD did get a bit trigger happy when firing Jags. He’d led them to two ACC title games in two years. There were rumors that recruiting had tailed off, but I remember checking and it was still ahead of what TOB was bringing in at State on paper. That to me looked like a pissing match between two people with big egos. BC’s AD did look crazy there.

    Now basketball and Skinner was a different story entirely. For at least one year, and I think two years in a row, Al Skinner signed ZERO recruits. He decided he didn’t like recruiting any more and just stopped. They fired Skinner due to gross negligence on his part after the second such year.

    If there’s a reason that BC stinks right now, it can be directly linked to those two voids. This is Donohue’s second year. Last year, he was playing with Skinner’s last recruits and he did a decent job. Then there was the zero man class. This is the year where Skinner also had signed zero, so Donohue has something like 7-8 freshman that he scrambled to put together late. Most of the 7-8 have no business in the ACC.

    This means that it is going to take at least another couple of cycles of “recruiting over” these kids in order to get this mess straightened out. The talent level will have to increase and the scholarship spacing will have to get better.

    There’s one thing that I can say about Donohue — the man took an Ivy League program to the Sweet 16. Yes, Cornell had many advantages over the other Ivy’s and Donohue was reported to play in the grey areas using those advantages, but he still did it. In this day and age that’s an amazing accomplishment and tells me he can coach.

    I do agree with your point though. There have been some really bad hires in the ACC over the past ten years and that’s really held the league back. Fowler made a terrible one in Lowe. WF has an awful one in Bzz. I personally think that Gregory was a bad one at GT. I think that Maryland was going to struggle regardless of who followed Gary, and I’m not sure that the Turg is a good fit there. Is Clemson actually better after their hire of Brownell to replace Purnell? I never thought Haith or Paul Hewitt were anything special.

    I suspect VT will make a change this year and it will be interesting to see who they get. I hope for the sake of the league that it is someone really good. We need more depth.

  6. wolfbuff 02/29/2012 at 10:15 AM #

    HDTV and scheduling that is geared to prime time viewing are the culrits. Combine that with traffic, parking, and $7 hamburgers, it’s easier to watch at home. Sucks for the arena owners. But TV money is what drives the revenues in the new model. “Back in the day” when you might get to watch your team if they were on the JP game of the week, you either had to go to the game, or listen to it on the radio (which is how I experienced many a Wolfpack game growing up). Plus many of the newer, bigger arenas are not easy places to watch a game, unless you have the corporate seats. That said, I am going to the ridiculously late game tonight v Miami. Go Pack!

  7. otisthetowndrunk 02/29/2012 at 12:54 PM #

    I totally disagree with your pro-wrestling outcome statement. Maybe the officiating, but not the outcome. In ACC you know who will win (the blues) in pro wrestling a vastly superior wrestler will sometimes get jobbed by a no talent hack. Pro-wrestling outcomes are rarely predictable, where as ACC basketball is often too predictable. I know this is nitpicking – but come on now – why you gotta diss pro-wrestling like that. Also in pro-wrestling, the heels (bad guy wrestlers) rarely win on the biggest stage.

  8. Lumpy 02/29/2012 at 6:55 PM #

    I’m not sure the declining stats have to do with officials. Yeah, they’re bad. But I’ve never known anyone to say they weren’t going to a game because the officials sucked. I have heard people say they were not going to a game because the opponent was a nobody. And therein lies our attendance problem. Star power. Or in the ACC’s case these days, the lack thereof.

    Take a look at the ACC POY from 1990-1999: 1990-Dennis Scott, ’91-Rodney Monroe, ’92-Christian Laettner, ’93- Rodney Rodgers, ’94- Grant Hill, ’95-Joe Smith, ’96 & ’97-Tim Duncan, ’98-Antawn Jamison, ’99-Elton Brand. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the ACC stars in the 90’s. You also had Kenny Anderson, Travis Best, James Forrest, Corch & Googs, Stackhouse, Wallace, Stephon Marbury, Vince Carter, Randolph Childress, Eric Montross, Sharone Wright, Rick Fox, Bob Sura, Charlie Ward, Sam Cassell, Bobby Hurley, Shane Battier, and I’m sure I’m missing 10 more.
    People wanted to see those teams play. And before everyone split early for the NBA, you at least got 3 years out of these guys so you built some name recognition. Take a look at the POY from the last decade:

    Joe Forte, Juan Dixon, Josh Howard, Julius Hodge, JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, and Grevis Vasquez. All good players to be sure, (and an inordinately high amount of “J’s”) But not exactly close to the star power of the first list. Duke and UNC kept getting the top talent that did not yet want to play in the NBA, but where has the talent been around the rest league? Lonny Baxter? Jarrett Jack? Von Wafer, Majestic Mapp, Eric Williams, or Chris Hobbs? Again all good players, but a huge drop off from the talent level of the ’90’s .

  9. LRM 02/29/2012 at 7:58 PM #

    “Don’t forget the loss of rivalries.

    We’ve dropped a guaranteed home game against Duke and picked one up against BC and Miami. Anyone want to bet which opponent is more likely to sell out our arena?”

    The unbalanced schedule has really hurt the league in terms of quality. You can’t predict which match ups will be good in any given year, but the past couple seasons — especially this season — we’ve been overwhelmed — underwhelmed? — with truly horrible games because there are only three good teams so there are so many more bad teams than usual, all playing each other twice.

  10. highstick 03/01/2012 at 8:46 PM #

    Wow, I’m shocked. You guys have just made me feel better about watching reruns of “Friends” or “Big Bang Theory” rather than ACC basketball! Or even “any basketball”, and I’m like Rick…I used to never miss a game on TV or better yet, in person.. It’s not only ACC, but NBA. I loved NBA basketball, but I only go now if someone “forces me with free tickets”. If you can digest that I have not been to a game since the Hornets played in Charlotte, that might tell you something. I gave away two Bobcat tickets today for a “bucket list” request from a terminal pancreatic cancer patient that had been given to me..

    Goose Tatum was da man!

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