Coach Romar’s Huskies limp toward the finish of the regular season with two final games at home this week. It's clear that the lack of Tourney appearances is reflected with the drooping attendance at Dawg games. Barring a complete reversal of fortune in Vegas, the Dawgs will miss the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year.
Notwithstanding the last two games, reviewing the official attendance at Husky games this year, it will be the fourth straight year where attendance has declined from the previous season
This year, the biggest crowd was for the Washington State game in January which drew just over 7,500 fans. The second highest was Tulane in December which drew a reported 7,130. For those who have gone to Husky games this year and believe to have seen fewer in the stands, the reported attendance likely includes those that have paid for tickets. We assume that some season ticket holders just don’t go to every game for a variety of reasons.
At this point, the average attendance for Husky games for the 2014-2015 season is 6,364. For the Huskies to best last year's attendance average of 6,586, it would have to have at least 16,200 come to the last two games against Colorado and Utah. Essentially, 8,100 per game. If you were wondering, the last time the Huskies drew over 8,000 was the 2012-2013 season. An even more depressing stat is that the Huskies last officially sold out Alaska Airlines Arena was Saturday, February 18th 2012 against Arizona. The Dawgs beat the Cats 79-70.
In comparison to this season, the 2013-2014 season had 5 games which exceeded 7,000 fans (Idaho State, UConn, Oregon State, California, WSU and USC). In the 2012-2013 season, the Huskies averaged 7,834 fans. Attendance was consistent with only 1 game (St. Louis with 6,928 in attendance on November 28th) below 7,000.
The 2011-2012 season was the last time attendance hit capacity at 10,000 fans. That year, the Dawgs drew 10,000 fans against the Cougs and Arizona. Both wins.
The last time the Huskies made the tournament, attendance was booming with an average attendance of 9,650. There were 5 sellouts during the 2010-2011 season.
Perhaps one of the reasons given for the decline in attendance over the years is the start times for games. This is due to the television windows agreed to by the conference with its television partners. For example, 6:00 pm Wednesday/Thursday starts are not ideal considering many people are just getting off work and have to fight traffic to get to Montlake. Late starts were also an issue in previous years. Start times of 8:00 and 8:30pm were not ideal if you are bringing young kids to the games. Of course, this year, one of the highest attended games, Tulane on December 22nd, started at 8pm. We might chalk that one up to Winter Break. Regardless of the start times being a factor, if you look into past years with good Romar teams, fans found a way to get to the Alaska Airlines Arena.
Down attendance is not a new thing for Pac 12 teams. In fact, according to a February 2014 Seattle Times article, seven of the Pac-12 teams experienced declines in attendance from 2013 to 2014. The Huskies were second to the Cougs in the biggest percentage of decline in attendance.
Like most years, there have been promos to entice fans to come to games including ticket discounts such as "2 for 1" ticket prices, but based on the attendance figures, they do not seem to be working. You may have recently received in your email in-box an offer from the UW for the regular season finale Saturday afternoon against the nationally-ranked Utah Utes. For $80 you receive four tickets, four medium soft drinks and four hot dogs. Promoted as Family Fun days, Saturday is also Senior Day as the Dawgs say goodbye to Mike Anderson and Shawn Kemp, Jr. I am not sure if the Huskies have run promos on Senior Day to get fans to come to the game. Since the 2010 season, Senior Day has averaged almost 9,000 fans including two sellouts (2010 and 2011). Last year’s Senior Day drew 7,337 against USC.
In a down year, it’s unfortunate to see the drop-off in attendance. Even if we argue that the television windows making the start times hard to get to the Arena an issue, the fact that the team is not producing (i.e., NCAA Tournament appearances) is a problem when it comes to fans wanting to come to games.