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The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)
October 31, 2013 Thursday
The Virginian-Pilot Edition
424 words
Capacity crowds remain elusive

By Joedy McCreary

The Associated Press

Atlantic Coast Conference

stadiums have been less than 85 percent full this season, according to STATS LLC. That's the smallest number since the league expanded in 2004, and that's despite having three teams in the top 10 in the national rankings.

"It takes a great fan to come to games now," said Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe, whose team lost at Miami last week before thousands of vacant seats. "Everywhere we go, we see empty seats."

Attendance in the ACC has been declining since 2007, when the stadiums were 93 percent full.

That number dipped to 88 percent in 2010 and fell to 85 percent last year, according to STATS.

The ACC can expect sellouts in instate rivalry games this weekend: No. 3 Florida State hosts No. 7 Miami and North Carolina visits N.C. State.

But those appear to be the exceptions to the trend of empty seats, which Grobe calls "kind of a national thing now."

One reason is obvious: So many games on television.

That's why North Carolina senior associate athletic director Rick Steinbacher says the challenge is to "try to make that in-stadium experience as unique and as special and as exciting as it can possibly be so it's harder to choose to stay home than come to the game.


While it's obvious that attendance is down, few ACC schools count it the same way.

Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech and N.C. State go by the number of tickets sold and distributed. Wake Forest uses tickets scanned plus a count of students that show up. And UNC's announced attendance is an estimate from the press box.

No. 8 Clemson and Virginia Tech, the league's leaders in attendance, are experiencing declines this year, though the Tigers' drop barely counts - 67 fans per game.

It's more noticeable for the Hokies, whose 93-game sellout streak at Lane Stadium ended last month and are drawing about 2,000 fewer fans per home game.

At Duke, attendance is down 14.5 percent - the biggest drop in the league.

Virginia hasn't sold out Scott Stadium since Southern Cal visited in 2008 and was 3,000 shy of capacity for a September game against No. 2 Oregon.

Its loss to Ball State came before its smallest home crowd (38,228) since 2010.

There have been some success stories. Maryland, which had its best start since 2001, is drawing nearly 5,000 more fans per game.

And unbeaten Miami has pulled in nearly 10,000 more fans per game.

Newcomers Pittsburgh and Syracuse are filling their venues to roughly 75 percent capacity - below the league average, but better than what they drew during their final year in the Big East.

Steve Helber | the associated press Virginia's loss to Ball State this month drew the smallest crowd (38,228) at Scott Stadium since 2010.
October 31, 2013

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