(Yes, i did all the math with this abacus)
I’m about to go real nerdy up in here. Lets talk about attendance numbers.
Over the past four seasons, I have seen the crowds at the Mullins Center grow from a pathetic trickle of local cotton-tops to a very, very slow moving flood of local cotton-tops. Not to mention the student crowd, because suddenly its cool to go to basketball games again. As a freshman, I remember showing up to the games two minutes before tip-off and easily getting a front row seat next to the three other squids who thought basketball was cooler than trying to get into Monkey Bar (remember when they let underclassmen in there?). Last year, as a senior and an employee of the Mullins Center, I saw crowds line up at the door hours before games. So, lets see if my perception was right by taking a look at the figures.
Average Home Attendance: 3,987
Average Home Attendance: 3,300
Average Home Attendance: 4,279
Average Home Attendance: 5,110
Okay, so maybe the Mullins Center didn’t look like Kentucky’s Rupp Arena last season (#1 in attendance with over 22,000 fans per game) but the increase in attendance was clearly noticeable. One season after the Minutemen made it to the NIT Semi-Finals in 2012, attendance cracked 5,000 per game and showed a 23% increase from the 2011-2012 season to the 2012-2013 season. That was good enough for #26 on the list of most improved attendance averages.*
I’d call that good news for the Minutemen and my prediction is for even bigger crowds this season. Just taking a look at the first half of the football season and the first few games of hockey season, UMass fans are coming out in droves this year.
Here are the attendance numbers for the three football games at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro this season:
UMass vs Maine: 15,624
UMass vs Vanderbilt: 16,419
UMass vs Miami (Ohio): 21,707
As UMass fans continue to head to Gillette Stadium for football games, I supsect some of that momentum will carry over into basketball season as alumni and students are getting more excited about UMass sports.
While we are only two home games into the hockey season, opening weekend attendance of 7,078 and 5,280 also point to massive support for UMass sports this year.
Obviously the Mullins Center has limited capacity, with only 9,493 seats in the basketball configuration so we won’t see gigantic crowds unless fans fill the TD Garden for this seasons game against Boston College. Another problem is parking and traffic. I have not idea how to solve that problem, but maybe we can get SlimPhil working on it. I hear he’s good at that stuff. Regardless (or irregardless, if you prefer), if the Minutemen play well this season I don’t see why they couldn’t sell out the Mullins Center for a late season conference match up.
*Figures taken from report published by NCAA http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/stats/m_basketball_RB/Reports/attend/2013.pdf