College football attendance rose in 2022 with largest year-over-year increase since 1982

It would seem that everything about college football is up in 2022: ticket prices, zero wealth, coach salaries, your blood pressure if you were a Miami fan. Add the attendance to the conga of the increase line. In 2022, FBS traffic grew for the first time in eight years.

If you’ve noticed the decline in attendance for this sport, that’s a big deal. Official NCAA data shows FBS average attendance increased 5% last season to 41,840 fans per game. While this sounds like a modest increase, it is significant as it marks the second largest increase per game (1992) in history. (NCAA has kept attendance data since 1978.)

Since 1982, when attendance has increased by an average of 9,068 people per game compared to 1981, there has not been such an increase. The 2021 season saw the lowest average attendance (39,848) since the same year (1981).

The SEC is a good example of last season’s radical shift. The football-crazed 2021 conference went from the lowest average attendance since 1999 to the fifth-highest in conference history last season. The SEC leads the nation in attendance for the 24th year in a row.

Just don’t ask how or why. There may be some attributive explanations, but they are not necessarily obvious. Attendance in 2021 declined for a record seventh year in a row and the ninth time in the past 10 years. (Not counting 2020, when the NCAA did not maintain attendance data during the high season of the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Perhaps 2022 marked a further recovery from the devastating impact of the pandemic, which is reflected in the stands. Two years before the shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19, there were more fans. It may have been the unconventional power turns Kansas, Duke and Tulane (all up at least 48% over 2021).

Perhaps game day is becoming more “experiential”. It’s a code word in marketing circles for making the grandstand experience worthwhile, as close to home as possible. For years, school and conference leaders have blamed the convenience of a 70-inch TV, sun lounger, and remote control—hello, channel flipping. By staying at home, you also save on parking and concession costs.

Or perhaps 2022 marks the beginning of a new era in college football. While cable TV subscribers generally don’t work, after all, watching the real thing in person isn’t all that bad.

  • Tickets in one click. They exist in your phone, not in your wallet. Buying, selling, trading, this is a separate market in itself. Convenience reigns.
  • College fans make up a huge demographic that tends to be more affluent than their peers in other sports. Rising prices did not stop them. They proved to be almost immune to inflation.
  • The sale of alcohol is now a given in college stadiums, not a novelty.
  • It didn’t hurt that the teams that inhabited six of the nine largest stadiums headed to the big bowl games in 2022. Playoffs.

“I don’t think it’s a game that has more experience,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “It’s a day and a weekend [that is] student football. There’s always been a component to what’s going on around the game that’s unique to college football.”

It all boils down to better experience. Even the sports department’s marketing department with the highest resources can’t count on winning ticket sales. But they can make a football match unique.

FBS attendance

Season Attendance Change


44 603



43 933



43 612



42 203



41 856



41 477



39 848*


2022 41 840 ^ +1 992

* Lowest level since 1981
^ Highest level since 2018

Paciolan is a leader in mobile ticketing technology. The Irvine, California-based firm also specializes in marketing, fundraising, and analytics. Paciolan has 80% of Power Five customers, so when she notices trends, that’s what got President and CEO Kim Damron so excited.

In 2022, primary ticket sales are up 14% year-over-year. Ticket transfers increased by 64%. And if you haven’t experienced a ticketless system, you won’t go to events. This is the standard these days.

“Last fall we saw record sales. With the advent of mobile devices, we have never seen such an acceleration,” said Damron.

This shows that due to the pandemic and inflation, football ticket sales have recovered. This is also another indicator of the demographic situation with rich students.

“In economic centers, we don’t see colleges enjoying as much success as concerts or performing arts,” Damron added. “We just don’t know. But last fall, demand for college was very, very loyal.”

This is certainly better than an analysis of how to interest students and their phones. And the experience will get better. Forget cashless outlets, the day will soon come when the gaming day shopping experience is… inhumane.

A series of beer pubs and eateries built into the cozy new Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego State almost threatens to make football a distraction. Unsurprisingly, SDSU led the country in attendance growth (174%) in Snapdragon’s inaugural season.

Before games, Texas boasts Beveaux Boulevard, a bright orange Woodstock football club that hosts nationally famous acts and hosts its own pre-game happy hour. Astoundingly, 2022 was the first season in which average attendance in Texas surpassed 100,000.

“Fans [in general] being treated very, very well,” said Drew Martin, Texas senior assistant executive director for external affairs. dog. Now it’s the best experience.”

Conference Attendance Changes

Conference Avg. Attendance 22 years % change year on year Notes


76 667


Highest since 17

big ten

67 295


Highest since 13

Big 12

59 783


Highest since 11

ACC 48 714 +14.35 Highest since 18
Pak-12 44 458 +1.35 2nd lowest ever
Independent 33 886 +5.41 2nd place since 2001


28 253


Lowest Ever*


22 611


2nd in history*

C-USA 19 346 +11.90 Highest since 16
solar belt 19 174 +4.14 Highest since 13


14 261


Lowest since 93

*Since inception by American (2013), Mountain West (1999)

For the first time since the debut of the Big 12 in 1996, all current Power Five conferences increased attendance. ACC led the way with an overall growth of 14.35% (6,115 per game). It was a significant rebound from the league’s lowest average attendance since 1991 (42,599 in 2021). The average of 48,714 last season was the conference’s highest since 2018.

There are two programs ahead with new coaches. The Duke with Mike Elko won no less than nine for only the second time since 1941. The Blue Devils finished second among the Power Five (58.9%). Despite the pre-season rush falling short of its first year record, Miami with Mario Cristobal had the third biggest ACC gain, up 25% to 54,964.

“We needed to prioritize football,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips told CBS Sports.

This was part of an initiative promoted by Phillips, calling for a 24/7 and comprehensive review of ACC sports. For the first time in the basketball league, all 14 spring football games were broadcast. On both days of the signing, there were special recruiting shows on the ACC network. This emphasis was needed even as Clemson became an ACC dynasty with two national championships and seven conference titles since 2015.

“It’s a reminder of where our country has said it’s going to spend the most time,” Phillips said. “…Popularity [of football] continues, but as you know, we have to do some things to protect it. Health and safety comes first.”

At least that’s what the NCAA Football Rules Committee is hoping for, which last week proposed at least one drastic change: The clock will continue to run past first downs, reducing the number of games per game. The country’s No. 2 sport will take place in a narrower, more fan-friendly window.

It also helps with fan engagement.

The Big 12 finished second among the Power Five (8.66%, 4766 per game). This was after the 2021 average of 55,017 was the lowest since 2000. Not surprisingly, Texas led the way with the eighth largest stadium in the country.

It helped that the Longhorns had Alabama at home in their second week. Now that the transition to the SEC has been resolved, season ticket renewals have increased by 10%, according to Martin. This is the result of a season of record season ticket sales (64,000). Martin also noted the excitement not only from the SEC’s decision, but also from the arrival of five-star quarterback Ark Manning.

“Ad agencies and departments are really learning over time what makes people spend five, six, seven hours on campus and a few hundred dollars,” Martin added. “Having said that, much attention [nationally] on the Big Ten movement, the SEC movement. It brightens the conversation about college sports.”

Little Old Kansas had the biggest percentage increase of any Power Five school (63% to 43,706 per game). When the Jayhawks started 5-0, they made national history for the first time since 2009.

Average SEC attendance has dropped from its lowest level in 22 years (72,195 in 2021) to 76,667 in 2022. This means an increase of 6.2% (4,472 people per game). The 2022 average is only 1,964 less than the conference record of 78,630 in 2015.

A year after nine of 14 SEC teams experienced a decline in attendance, five SEC programs saw double-digit percentage growth in 2022. Ole Miss, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Missouri rose by at least 10.8%. That’s not counting South Carolina, which added over 6,000 per game (8.68%) in the second season of Shame Beamer.

Big ten…


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