Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Missouri Valley Attendance

The Fargodome as it hosted Georgia Southern last year in the playoffs. 
The Missouri Valley Football Conference has a pretty good showing so far this season attendance wise. As of October 21st, six of the ten Valley teams are in the top 30 in attendance according to the NCAA; all six of those schools are averaging more than 10,000 fans per game. Of course, it is usually about this time of the season where attendance tends to drop off. The weather gets colder and more people tend to stay home and follow the game online or watch a larger BCS game with title and Heisman implications from Buffalo Wild Wings. Here are the attendance averages thus far in the Missouri Valley:
Coughlin-Alumni Stadium renovation plans for an upgrade
to over 20,000. 

1. North Dakota State (18,655)
2. Youngstown State (15,886)
3. Northern Iowa (13,696)
4. Western Illinois (12,878)
5. South Dakota State (12,148)
6. Southern Illinois (10,784)
7. Missouri State (9,073)
8. South Dakota (8,998)
9. Indiana State (6,771)
10. Illinois State (6,441)

With the amount of success Indiana State and Illinois State are having this season the numbers are surprising. However, remember that Illinois State is in the midst of a remodel and I believe half of their stadium is under construction. Indiana State does not have the support. After more than a decade of being at the bottom of the Gateway/MVFC, Indiana State's football support has dwindled. However, at 6,771, Indiana State's attendance is on the rise. In 2008, the Sycamores averaged 3,885 fans per game. South Dakota also has something to look forward to. Even though the performance on field has struggled this season, I do expect the Coyotes to field a competitive MVFC team in the near future. South Dakota also has plans to build a basketball arena which would allow the Dakota Dome to be reconfigured--presumably into something similar to the UNI-Dome.

Northern Iowa's UNI-Dome, holds up to 16,000. South
Dakota's Dakota Dome is essentially a one-sided UNI-Dome.
South Dakota State also has big plans to increase attendance in the future. So far this season the Jackrabbits have averaged just over 12,000 per game. With two home games left (Hobo Day & in-state rival South Dakota) that average will soar--both games have only standing-room-only tickets available. South Dakota State will break ground within the next year on a new Indoor Practice Facility which is the first step into completely renovating the area around Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, and the stadium itself. The amount of enthusiasm for South Dakota State has gone through the roof; the last season of division II the Jackrabbits were averaging just over 5,000 fans per game.

North Dakota State has the most electric game-day experience, not only because of the amount of fans, but because of the culture and atmosphere the Dome provides. It is incredible how loud the Fargodome gets. I wonder sometimes what the future of the Bison football program holds. The Bison sold out every football game this year and will likely repeat that for years to come. The fan support in Fargo could easily make an argument for a 25,000-35,000 seat stadium that could easily be sold out like the Fargodome.

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