NCAA Stadiums - Are They Too Big?

Auggie

Well-known member
So Northwestern is announcing a new stadium to replace the highly inadequate Ryan Field and while it is state of the art and has many amenities you would see in a modern NFL stadium the big news is that it will be reduced capacity, all the way down to 35,000:


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On social media many are criticizing the size and calling out it is a fraction of what most other B1G stadiums come in at. But on the flip side not only does NW not need a huge stadium as a private school with an undergraduate enrollment in the low teens but for most games how many fans are really in these massive stadiums? Nick Saban has been coming down hard on the 'Bama fans for a half filled Bryant-Denny Stadium even for SEC conference games. Is it time to cut out entire seating sections and add in areas with amenities to draw in fans? Maybe cut back on the student section as many of these under market value tickets are not being used while students are getting lit up in the parking lots or the bars? The below swaths of unused seats are in the 1st Q of a Bama OOC game and are primarily in the student sections:

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Is it time to reimagine NCAA football stadiums?
 

utsherman

Well-known member
Coincidental timing for this thread, as I just heard Kiffin's comments calling out his entire fan base - essentially comparing the environment to a high school stadium. May actually be an insult to some high schools. Lol.
 

cjb5656

Well-known member
Sports attendance is down all across the board, at every level. The need for large stadiums and arenas is diminishing.
 

utsherman

Well-known member
Modern convenience also plays a huge role in improving the fan experience. That's why tOSU spent $18.6 million to install wireless access points across campus, including Ohio Stadium in 2019. The Wi-Fi experience, whether one agrees or not, is a deal-breaker for a lot of fans at current. And it was abysmal in the 'Shoe.
 

Crusaders

Moderator
People will continue to choose bars and their houses unless ticket prices and in-stadium food and bev become reasonable, and rather than do that, teams will just choose to build smaller.
 

The Dock

Well-known member
Main thing the article misses re: Ole Miss — it’s one of the rare P5 programs where about half of the students likely never cared about the program before they enrolled. It’s a smallish state school with a huge chunk of the student body being non-residents of MS. No doubt that the kids there care more about parties and Greek Life than they do planting their butts at Vaught-Hemingway for four quarters against snoozer opponents.
 

Auggie

Well-known member
People will continue to choose bars and their houses unless ticket prices and in-stadium food and bev become reasonable, and rather than do that, teams will just choose to build smaller.
That's why I give Northwestern credit for going smaller, stayed on campus and is building something trend right and very cool. The inside is just as interesting as that exterior shot posted above. Kind of reminds me of a smaller version of SoFi Stadium>

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oxat622

Well-known member
If a school can realistically sell out its stadium with at least 90% of the attendees being fans of the home team even once during a season, I think the big stadiums are worth it. Optics of bare patches in the stands matter, but don't leave potential money on the table. It is up to these schools to deliver a competitive product at a fair price.

Flip side is building stadiums too small. I was bewildered when Bowling Green built the Stroh Center with capacity at 5,000 and no room for expansion. A school of that size is basically saying for the next 50 or so year of this building's existence, the most we could ever accommodate for a basketball game is 5,000, no matter how good the team may be one day.
 

oxat622

Well-known member
And the provincialism is gone in a lot of college football areas. There was a time when Doyt Perry Field or the Glass Bowl would be packed for the Toledo vs BG rivalry. People just aren't into to those things anymore.
Well the MAC bones itself with its treatment of marquee games in both football and basketball. How often is that game played on a Saturday anymore? This year, every significant MAC rivalry is played on a weeknight save for Kent/Akron which is really more of a hoops rivalry.

As a fan and alum of a MAC team, even I know that MAC fanhood is fickle and fleeting. By the end of October, if your season is going nowhere, your fans are GONE. I've been of the opinion that the MAC should make the first or second Saturday in October RIVALRY weekend and have BG/UT, CMU/WMU, OU/Miami, UA/KSU played then while the teams' championship prospects are still equal.
 

utsherman

Well-known member
Main thing the article misses re: Ole Miss — it’s one of the rare P5 programs where about half of the students likely never cared about the program before they enrolled. It’s a smallish state school with a huge chunk of the student body being non-residents of MS. No doubt that the kids there care more about parties and Greek Life than they do planting their butts at Vaught-Hemingway for four quarters against snoozer opponents.
But I thought it "just meant more" in the SEC. Lol. I hear what you're saying though. I simply enjoy a good Lane Kiffin rant. All that aside, I'm willing to bet a fair amount of co-eds bail at halftime at most schools. Hell, that happened way back when I was in college. Perhaps if they allowed open-carry Hot Toddy's in the stadium, it wouldn't be a story.
 

Crusaders

Moderator
That's why I give Northwestern credit for going smaller, stayed on campus and is building something trend right and very cool. The inside is just as interesting as that exterior shot posted above. Kind of reminds me of a smaller version of SoFi Stadium>

Screen_Shot_2022_09_28_at_6.24.45_PM.0.png

Looks like a large MLS stadium, tbh
 

The Dock

Well-known member
But I thought it "just meant more" in the SEC. Lol. I hear what you're saying though. I simply enjoy a good Lane Kiffin rant. All that aside, I'm willing to bet a fair amount of co-eds bail at halftime at most schools. Hell, that happened way back when I was in college. Perhaps if they allowed open-carry Hot Toddy's in the stadium, it wouldn't be a story.
Football being in competition with rush season doesn’t help matters, and the first half of the football schedule is hellacious to be outside in. What I’ve heard is baseball generates more student interest there than football.
 

utsherman

Well-known member
Well the MAC bones itself with its treatment of marquee games in both football and basketball. How often is that game played on a Saturday anymore? This year, every significant MAC rivalry is played on a weeknight save for Kent/Akron which is really more of a hoops rivalry.

As a fan and alum of a MAC team, even I know that MAC fanhood is fickle and fleeting. By the end of October, if your season is going nowhere, your fans are GONE. I've been of the opinion that the MAC should make the first or second Saturday in October RIVALRY weekend and have BG/UT, CMU/WMU, OU/Miami, UA/KSU played then while the teams' championship prospects are still equal.
The only way to keep students in their seats at MAC schools back in the day was to have a concert on the field immediately following the game. I remember Toledo having Busta Rhymes perform after a game in 2000 against Weber State. Needless to say, it was not a smart move, and the turf was totally destroyed. Not to mention that Busta opened by saying, "Hello, Detroit!" 🤣
 

utsherman

Well-known member
Football being in competition with rush season doesn’t help matters, and the first half of the football schedule is hellacious to be outside in. What I’ve heard is baseball generates more student interest there than football.
I don't know if it's been released yet, but there's literally a Bama Rush Doc coming to HBO Max. I know it's insane.
 

JUSTGOPLAY

Well-known member
If you are a university in an NFL city you definitely do not need the 80 -100K seat stadium. 50K tops, as Minnesota did with their new stadium and Northwestern down sizing with their new digs. A quarter to half the students are still gonna' bail at halftime regardless, cause beer is $9 in the stadium or free back at the house.....
 

Auggie

Well-known member
I don't know if it's been released yet, but there's literally a Bama Rush Doc coming to HBO Max. I know it's insane.
No need to wait for that, just go to tik tok and you can find a ton of stuff on rush at 'Bama, it really is a bizarre ritual that is unique to the big southern university experience. But rush isn't even the half of it, the arms race for their chapter houses is completely insane. Us Yankees have no clue what Greek life, and sorties in particular, are like in the south.

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utsherman

Well-known member
No need to wait for that, just go to tik tok and you can find a ton of stuff on rush at 'Bama, it really is a bizarre ritual that is unique to the big southern university experience. But rush isn't even the half of it, the arms race for their chapter houses is completely insane. Us Yankees have no clue what Greek life, and sorties in particular, are like in the south.

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I think the idea for this doc came from the Tik Tok stuff. Genuinely bizarre to be sure. It's one of those subcultures that is a veritable black hole.
 

Orin Swift

Well-known member
Coincidental timing for this thread, as I just heard Kiffin's comments calling out his entire fan base - essentially comparing the environment to a high school stadium. May actually be an insult to some high schools. Lol.
Oxford and Starkville, for that matter are just tiny. I think they are 25k and 35k populations respectively. Jackson is the largest city in the state by far and its only around 150k, the next largest is Gulfport which is half of Jackson and both are in the southern part of the state nowhere near Oxford. Mid-northern Mississippi that isn’t near Memphis is just as rural as it gets.

I know a lot of SEC schools are in these smaller towns but the MS schools have it bad. Not only are the towns themselves small there’s no major population center nearby. Fayetteville is nearly 100k plus another few hundred thousand in the immediate (40 minutes or less away) area from campus in addition to not splitting loyalty the rest of the state with another school. Tuscaloosa is 100k and Birmingham is close. Athens 125k, Atlanta an hour away. Columbia is 135k, although no major population center near. Auburn 65k, Montgomery is close. Gainesville over 130k, less than 90 minutes from Jacksonville. Knoxville is near 200k itself. There’s just not a lot of built in support for the MS programs like the other schools have.
 

Orin Swift

Well-known member
No need to wait for that, just go to tik tok and you can find a ton of stuff on rush at 'Bama, it really is a bizarre ritual that is unique to the big southern university experience. But rush isn't even the half of it, the arms race for their chapter houses is completely insane. Us Yankees have no clue what Greek life, and sorties in particular, are like in the south.

eeb56ae21696eb9e91ad8116ea7d901a.jpg


1e723bfde81458a4771b06004cc6b304--sorority-row-alpha-phi.jpg
The sorority houses here in Fayetteville are insane, specially Tri Delt and Phi Mu. It’s one of the things we include in our tour when friends visit - look at the houses amazement and then a stop at the stadium.
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Hammerdrill

Well-known member
Northwestern has about 8000 undergrads, so they don't need a big stadium. But as an Ohio State fan, I would like to have cheap tickets when I attend our game there. So bigger is better in that case. ;)
 
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cjb5656

Well-known member
The sorority houses here in Fayetteville are insane, specially Tri Delt and Phi Mu. It’s one of the things we include in our tour when friends visit - look at the houses amazement and then a stop at the stadium.
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NWA has become very livable, thanks to all that growth in Bentonville/Rogers/Fayetteville/Springdale. And it just keeps growing. I can only see the U of Arkansas sports improving more and more as time goes by, especially when Saban finally retires. And bringing in Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC helps with the rivalries. With Mizzou, LSU and A&M…Arkansas is right in the middle.
 

Orin Swift

Well-known member
NWA has become very livable, thanks to all that growth in Bentonville/Rogers/Fayetteville/Springdale. And it just keeps growing. I can only see the U of Arkansas sports improving more and more as time goes by, especially when Saban finally retires. And bringing in Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC helps with the rivalries. With Mizzou, LSU and A&M…Arkansas is right in the middle.
Its been wild to see how much it’s grown in the 2 years we’ve been here. And you’re right on it continuing to grow. Walmart is building a billion dollar campus ala Facebook and Google. Their vendors are all growing and expanding. The university’s enrollment is growing which means a larger faculty at all levels. JB Hunt, Tyson Chicken, housing construction contractors, all booming business.

You’re starting to see Arkansas athletics take off, partially due to a great, fun fan engaging AD in Hunter Yurachek who made great hires in football and basketball, plus a traditional power in baseball. But the community is clearly putting money into NIL, the football team had a good number of high ranked and good performing transfers in Landers (leading WR, Toledo), Sanders (LB, Bama), McGlothern (CB, LSU), Brini (S, UGA) and basketball has landed multiple 5* recruits and highly sought after transfers.

Im moving back to Ohio soon, but I’ll bad sad to leave. Fayetteville is an awesome college town. NWA is a fantastic place to live.
 

JUSTGOPLAY

Well-known member
Its been wild to see how much it’s grown in the 2 years we’ve been here. And you’re right on it continuing to grow. Walmart is building a billion dollar campus ala Facebook and Google. Their vendors are all growing and expanding. The university’s enrollment is growing which means a larger faculty at all levels. JB Hunt, Tyson Chicken, housing construction contractors, all booming business.

You’re starting to see Arkansas athletics take off, partially due to a great, fun fan engaging AD in Hunter Yurachek who made great hires in football and basketball, plus a traditional power in baseball. But the community is clearly putting money into NIL, the football team had a good number of high ranked and good performing transfers in Landers (leading WR, Toledo), Sanders (LB, Bama), McGlothern (CB, LSU), Brini (S, UGA) and basketball has landed multiple 5* recruits and highly sought after transfers.

Im moving back to Ohio soon, but I’ll bad sad to leave. Fayetteville is an awesome college town. NWA is a fantastic place to live.
We made the road trip down to Fayetteville for the UC game. Next to the folks down in Norman, Oklahoma the Arkansas fans are easily the friendliest and most welcoming fans we've ever encountered. Campus is beautiful, Dickson St. Is cool enough, that area of Arkansas may be the best kept secret in the whole country. One of the locals said they believe Bentonville will be the next Austin.....
 

ogealbhain

Well-known member
Its been wild to see how much it’s grown in the 2 years we’ve been here. And you’re right on it continuing to grow. Walmart is building a billion dollar campus ala Facebook and Google. Their vendors are all growing and expanding. The university’s enrollment is growing which means a larger faculty at all levels. JB Hunt, Tyson Chicken, housing construction contractors, all booming business.

You’re starting to see Arkansas athletics take off, partially due to a great, fun fan engaging AD in Hunter Yurachek who made great hires in football and basketball, plus a traditional power in baseball. But the community is clearly putting money into NIL, the football team had a good number of high ranked and good performing transfers in Landers (leading WR, Toledo), Sanders (LB, Bama), McGlothern (CB, LSU), Brini (S, UGA) and basketball has landed multiple 5* recruits and highly sought after transfers.

Im moving back to Ohio soon, but I’ll bad sad to leave. Fayetteville is an awesome college town. NWA is a fantastic place to live.

What are the winters like in NWA?
 

Orin Swift

Well-known member
What are the winters like in NWA?
It’s been getting worse actually. When we first moved down here I asked some local neighbors if we needed a shovel for snow, said no never we might get one light dusting a winter. The last couple of years it’s snowed enough to need a shovel about twice a winter. It did get down to -20 one day a little under 2 years ago, but it was the coldest day in Arkansas history. But outside those outliers, it’s pretty mild.
 

irish_buffalo

Well-known member
Overpriced tickets/total experience (parking, concessions, etc.) and lack of quality inventory.
And the provincialism is gone in a lot of college football areas. There was a time when Doyt Perry Field or the Glass Bowl would be packed for the Toledo vs BG rivalry. People just aren't into to those things anymore.
Bingo and bingo. Back to back as well. You guys coordinate?

Good for Northwestern. A smaller yet more intimate stadium would be tougher to play in as an opponent than a cavernous one with empty seats.
 

eastisbest

Well-known member
Universities used to be surrounded by people who worked at the University or attended the university. Mid-majors particularly if UToledo or BG were typical. Old Orchard and Westmoreland were Professor and staff havens. Now they're all out being douchy in burbs like PBurg, Temperance or a growing Pemberville and the schools are commuter schools.

Tickets sold haven't really changed all that much. Even old days, it was only really BIG games that packed the stadiums. Both stadiums have been expanded, as have most in the country. I BELIEVE it's butts in the seats vs. tickets sold that is different. People buy season tickets, then watch from tv. Easy choice to make as at least at UT they have put little effort in creating game-day atmosphere and involving new fans into traditions. They have relied on it taking care of itself. There's some hope the new AD will excel at improving this.
 
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