Gridiron Countdown: a quick update on attendance at Johnson Hagood Stadium

Also in the “Gridiron Countdown” series:

Preseason ratings, featuring The Citadel (and the rest of the SoCon)

What teams will the Bulldogs’ opponents play before facing The Citadel?

The Citadel competes to win games — and fans

The Citadel’s run/pass tendencies, per-play averages, 4th-down decision-making, and more

Recent links of interest:

This post is really just a quick update on attendance. Last year, I created a spreadsheet that included attendance figures at Johnson Hagood Stadium since the 1964 season (attendance totals prior to that season are difficult to find and/or occasionally suspect).

I’ve updated the spreadsheet to include the 2014 attendance totals at JHS. You can access the spreadsheet at this link:

Attendance at Johnson Hagood Stadium, 1964-2014

The spreadsheet lists year-by-year total and average game attendance, and the win/loss record for the team in each given season. There is also a category ranking the years by average attendance.

Other columns refer to the program’s winning percentage over a two-year, three-year, five-year, and ten-year period, with the “current” season being the final year in each category. For example, the three-year winning percentage for 1992 is made up of the 1990, 1991, and 1992 seasons.

I listed those categories primarily to see what impact constant winning (or losing) has on long-term attendance trends. My findings were not clear-cut, to be honest.

As I noted last year, the numbers seemed to suggest that a good season tends to drive walk-up sales more than might be expected, particularly compared to season ticket sales for the following campaign. It is also true that due to The Citadel’s struggles on the gridiron over the last two decades, it is hard to draw hard-and-fast conclusions about what the school’s attendance goals should actually be in this day and age.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

Since 1964, The Citadel’s record at Johnson Hagood Stadium is 176-109, for a winning percentage of 61.75%. The program’s record at home since 1993, the season after the Bulldogs won the SoCon title, is 67-55 (54.91%).

Of course, that only tells part of the story. The Citadel’s overall record from 1964 through the 1992 season was 159-155-3. That’s a 29-year period of basically being a .500 program.

In the 22 years since, the Bulldogs have an overall record of 95-150 (winning percentage: 39.58%). The road record during that stretch is a horrific 28-95.

If the football program had continued to break even in wins and losses over the past two decades, would attendance in those years have been significantly better? I think it obviously would have, though I also believe there still would have been a dropoff, due to a lot of factors beyond The Citadel’s control (the exponential increase in televised college football games being the #1 issue).

Since 1964, over 4,000,000 fans have watched football games at Johnson Hagood Stadium. The average attendance over that period is 14,233 per game.

The last time The Citadel averaged that many fans per game over the course of a season, however, was 2006. Last year’s average (9,505) was the lowest in 51 years.

That has to improve dramatically, and in a hurry. However, it’s worth putting The Citadel’s attendance in perspective.

If you follow college athletics, you are probably aware that the Sun Belt is considering expanding. Two of the candidates to get a berth in that league are Eastern Kentucky and Coastal Carolina.

These are two schools that want to move up to the FBS ranks. They are ambitious. They want to be “big time”. And yet…

The Citadel, in its worst season for home attendance since at least 1963, still had higher average attendance than both EKU and Coastal Carolina last year.

Think about that.

The Citadel isn’t interested in a Sun Belt invite, though. If the Pac-12 were to call, maybe the military college would consider the offer. Maybe.

Less than two weeks to go…

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