The University of Memphis men's basketball team averaged 8,813 fans per game this season, according to turnstile count figures obtained by The Commercial Appeal through an open records request. That's nearly double the number from last season, when the university drew only 4,583 fans, and will result in a partial payment from the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies per the school's lease agreement with the FedExForum.
According to the university's FedExForum lease, Memphis is due an $800,000 payment from the Grizzlies if it averages more than 10,000 fans based on actual turnstile count at games played at the venue. If it averages between 6,000 and 10,000 fans, the school receives a reduced payment in proportion to the shortfall. If average attendance is below 6,000, Memphis gets no money from the Grizzlies. If the average turnstile count is below 6,000 in two consecutive seasons, the Grizzlies have the option to terminate the school’s lease.
The 2017-18 season's historic low attendance left Memphis with no payment from the Grizzlies. However, Memphis received a $368,449 payment from the Grizzlies the previous season.
More than 10,000 fans came to FedExForum for Tigers games five different times this season, including more than 15,000 for the in-state showdown against Tennessee, according to The Commercial Appeal. However, games against LeMoyne-Owen, Little Rock and Tulane proved to be a drag on the season attendance average.