StatTiger: Analyzing AU's Football Attendance

StatTiger (Stuart Carter) analyzes Auburn's football attendance numbers going back to the 1990s.

Last season marked the first time since 1991 Auburn failed to sell out at least one home football game. Based on the average attendance of home games compared to the maximum capacity, 2012 ranked No. 21 of the last 23 Auburn seasons from 1990-2012 for drawing fans to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn was unable to sell out home games against LSU and Georgia, something that had been accomplished in 18 of the last 19 home meetings against those two rivals. The combination of a struggling economy and a poor product on the field took its toll on the attendance numbers.

Since 1990 Auburn has played 162 home games at Jordan-Hare of which 38.3 percent were sellouts. During the 62 sellout home games from 1990-2012, Auburn compiled a record of 37-23-2.

During the past 23 years the Tigers had two seasons in which they failed to draw at least one sellout crowd at Jordan-Hare (1991 and 2012). During that time Auburn's attendance dropped below 90 percent capacity only 21 times and only four of those games were against conference opponents based on attendance records furnished by the university.

Since 1990 the highest number of sellouts during one season was five, which was done in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Other than the economy, several factors go into Auburn's home attendance. Talk to many season ticket holders and some will say they want a competitive non-conference schedule. Most fans want to see a competitive Auburn team take to the field. The majority are searching for a great game day experience inside and outside the stadium. Tailgating is a monumental game day experience before and after the games are played.

Conference games are obviously the biggest draw for Tiger fans with Auburn selling out 56.6 percent of their home SEC games since 1990. Of Auburn's 72 home non-conference games from 1990-2012, the Tigers sold out only 15.3 percent. Of the 11 non-conference games with full stadiums, six were opponents from a BCS conference, which caters to those Auburn fans wanting a competitive non-conference schedule. During the last 45 combined home games against Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU and Tennessee, Auburn sold out 86.7 percent of the time.

Of the conference opponents Auburn has played host to multiple times since 1990 only Kentucky and Vanderbilt did not attract a sellout crowd to Jordan-Hare Stadium. During Auburn's five home meetings against Vanderbilt, the stadium was only 88.6 percent filled to capacity.

There is no doubt the conference games bring in the most revenue, which is one of the reasons why there are discussions around the SEC about expanding the conference schedule to nine games. Other than Auburn's biggest rivals, home games against teams like Arkansas, South Carolina and Texas A&M have still brought Auburn to 98.2 percent capacity.

Since 1990 Auburn has compiled a record of 120-39-3 at home, a winning percentage of 75. Auburn's overall winning percentage from 1990-2012 is No. 15 nationally and No. 4 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn folks love their football, but last year's attendance drop was a boisterous statement from the home crowd. It's not just about wins and losses as the 2008 attendance percentage was No. 1 on the list since 1990, followed by 2001 and 2003. In fact, the 1993 attendance percentage was No. 18 and the 2004 season was No. 19. Auburn fans want to see a team that will fight, win or lose, making competitiveness an essential ingredient to bringing out the team's supporters.

Despite a poor showing during the 2012 season, the Tigers were No. 11 since 1990 when it came to home attendance against conference opponents. In terms of overall home attendance, the 2009, 2010 and 2011 teams were all in the Top 10 since 1990, which could be a good omen for Coach Gus Malzahn. Auburn fans established a new spring game attendance record for the 2013 A-Day contest, the first one under Auburn's new head coach. Though the final celebration for the Toomer's oaks was a part of the draw for the spring game, there is a level of excitement with the return of one of the most exciting offensive minds in college football.

A crowd of 83,401 attended Auburn's A-Day contest on Saturday.

Compare the best 11 winning percentages since 1990 to the bottom 12 and you won't find much difference in overall attendance. During the 11 seasons in which Auburn won the most games, fans filled the stadium to 96.7 percent capacity. During the bottom 12 seasons Jordan-Hare was at 95.4 percent capacity. Once again that is a testament to how loyal and passionate the Auburn fan base can be.

Jordan-Hare currently is the sixth largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference, but Texas A&M recently approved plans for expanding Kyle Field to 102,000-plus. Auburn's current home field was initially named Auburn Stadium in 1939 with a capacity of 7,500. It was renamed Cliff Hare Stadium in 1949 and Jordan-Hare beginning in 1974. Since 1939 the stadium has expanded nine times to its current seating capacity of 87,451.

Though there are no approved plans to expand the stadium, renovations have been made almost annually for many years it has been studied. Stadium expansion is always a hot topic every year during the offseason, especially when other programs within the conference are breaking ground on expansions. In time Auburn will eventually expand again, but the primary attention is squarely on the shoulders of the team itself, striving to improve the product on Pat Dye Field.

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