In light of the SEC studying attendance at games (with nine of the 14 schools having reported attendance down last season), AL.com conducted an unscientific survey recently, asking why conference fans are attending fewer football games these days.
It drew some interesting results. A whopping 54 percent of the roughly 5,000 peole responding to the survey said they are attending games less frequently than five years ago, which isn’t particularly surprising considering all the empty seats that have been showing up across the conference.
But while my expectation would have been that the leading answer would be fan dissatisfaction with nonconference scheduling (with too many unexciting games against lightweight opposition), the overwhelming reason cited by respondents was the cost. Cost of tickets and donations ranked atop the reasons fans are attending games less frequently, with cost of travel to the game ranked second.
And 83 percent said they believe average fans have been priced out of attending college football games.
In declining order, the other factors cited as reasons for not attending were convenience/enjoyment watching on TV, parking costs/traffic issues, the economic downturn, start time of games, quality of opponents (finally!) and tailgating issues.
We should note, however, that 85 percent of the people responding to this survey named either Alabama or Auburn as their favorite team and the largest portion of responses (39 percent) came from the state of Alabama. Only 13 percent were from Georgia and only 2 percent named Georgia as their favorite team. Not surprising since the survey was conducted by an Alabama-based media site.
When you factor in the required donations to the Hartman Fund to buy season tickets, however, the minimum cost per game for UGA fans in 2012 was second highest in the conference.
Put the two factors together and you get the practice I’ve heard several fans espousing: Dropping their season tickets and instead buying the best games on the secondary ticket market via the likes of StubHub. While they might pay over face value for those games, they end up saving money overall because they don’t have to buy the games they don’t want to attend.
It’s a problem throughout the conference, as Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley told CBSSports.com’s Tony Barnhart recently.
“There once was a day when every single seat for every single game would be full,” Foley said. “But those days are gone. If it’s a big SEC game we don’t have a problem. But if it’s not a big game we are concerned.”
Are you attending fewer games in Athens than you used to? And, if so, is cost the primary reason or is it dissatisfaction with the schedule, the overall hassle or some other reason? Share your thoughts in the comments below, vote in our poll, or do both.
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