Overflow crowd at Johnson Hagood for the season opener? Not likely

Just a quick post while I hide from the heat and humidity…football can’t get here fast enough, and that includes football weather.

Someone on the TCISN board recently expressed hope that attendance at Johnson Hagood Stadium might be excellent for the season’s first two games, against Charleston Southern and Georgia Southern. Putting aside GSU for the time being, I was less than certain about the prospects for a big turnout when The Citadel hosts CSU in the season opener.

It’s a 6:00 pm start, and won’t be played at the same time as a Clemson or South Carolina home game (though the Tigers will be on TV at around the same time). That is good news in terms of the competition on Saturday night. On the other hand, I remember that when the Bulldogs and Buccaneers first started playing, it was anticipated there would be large crowds for a game against two Lowcountry schools. That didn’t happen.

In fact, attendance for the five games between the two teams (played between 2002-2007) was somewhat disappointing. The numbers do not lie.

2002: Played in November, on a Thursday night. Attendance: 12,412. Verdict: not bad, really, given the month/day. Average attendance at Johnson Hagood Stadium that season: 15,582.

2003: A 3:30 pm start time on August 30, in Charleston. Yeesh. A crowd of 15,219 brought their sunscreen, though. Average home attendance that year: 16,759.

2004: Game postponed due to a hurricane threat, but ultimately was not rescheduled.

2005: A night game, but only 10,316 showed up. Average JHS attendance in ’05: 11,674.

2006: The only time when attendance for the CSU game exceeded average attendance for the season, with 15,121 in the stadium for the game, as opposed to season average attendance of 14,599.

2007: Another early start (2pm) resulted in a sluggish crowd of 12,885. Season average: 13,757.

- Average attendance for the five games against Charleston Southern: 13,191.

- Average attendance for games played at Johnson Hagood Stadium in those seasons (2002-07, excepting 2004): 14,489.

Note: one small caveat to those figures: When I went through the statistics, I concluded there was probably an error in the 2002 attendance totals, likely for that season’s game against Delaware. Nevertheless, I don’t think it affects the overall analysis.

So there you have it. The average crowd for a CSU game was actually only 91% the size of an average crowd for games at JHS over those seasons (and that is including the CSU attendance numbers in the overall totals; the difference is even greater if you take the CSU figures out of the average). It is thus hard for me to believe there will be a significant “bump” in attendance for this year’s contest, particularly given the fact the Buccaneers are coming off an 0-11 season.

It would be nice to see a big crowd for the opener. It’s likely going to be up to Bulldog fans to make it happen, though.

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