• Loading stock data...
Sunday, April 14, 2024
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -

No More Empty Stadiums?

Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks

Last year, teams often limited capacity to 25% or lower. The Big Ten didn’t have any fans at all. And schools in California had to play some home games out of the state due to restrictions.

But this year, teams have eased COVID attendance restrictions. Fans returned in droves for Week 1 matchups, packing stadiums.

It’s not just the booming cheers and in-game traditions that fans brought back. In 2019, FBS teams earned $1.5 billion in ticket sales across sports, according to Knight Commission data — with football as a main contributor. That’s about 17% of all revenue.  

Last year, that number was slashed and schools missed out on millions. 

Now that fans are back, they’ve begun to return lost athletic department revenue from pandemic restrictions.

Just look at these staggering numbers: At least seven games with SEC teams drew at least 70,000 fans, according to a Saturday Down South compilation. 

Ohio State-Minnesota and UNC-Virginia Tech both played in front of sold-out crowds, the schools announced. Georgia-Clemson also sold out, according to the Charlotte Observer. And while it was controversial, a group of donors bought up enough tickets for the Fordham-Nebraska game to keep the Cornhuskers’ sellout streak going.

Wisconsin didn’t announce whether its matchup against Penn State sold out completely, but if you watched the game, it sure looked like they did. Videos of game-day tradition “Jump Around,” for example, showed the stadium shaking as a wall-to-wall sea of red jumped in unison.

“Win or lose, there’s nothing like being back home together again at Camp Randall Stadium,” the team tweeted after falling to the Nittany Lions, 16-10.

This is all happening, of course, despite public health officials’ trepidation over the Delta variant. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday, “I don’t think it’s smart,” though he did concede that “outdoors is always better than indoors.” 

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.
Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NCAA officials measure the three point line while coaches from the Texas Longhorns and NC State Wolfpack watch with referees in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center.

NCAA Has No One to Blame for Latest Women’s March Madness Transgressions

NCAA is still making avoidable mistakes three years after a complete overhaul.

Failure of Ted Leonsis’ Virginia Arena Gambit Could be Warning for Other Franchises

Why the Caps’ and Wizards’ failed moves could be just the beginning. 

Featured Today

Nov 16, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; General view of the championship banners at Assembly Hall prior to the game between Austin Peay and Indiana.

How to Make It in Basketball: Become a Manager at Indiana

Inside the Hoosiers’ unglamorous, profoundly rewarding incubator for basketball’s biggest names.
Mar 19, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Oral Roberts Golden Eagles forward Kevin Obanor (0) and guard Carlos Jurgens (11) and guard Max Abmas (3) and forward Francis Lacis (22) celebrate after an overtime victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Mackey Arena.
March 30, 2024

Cinderella Runs Are Great in the Moment. Then Things Can Get Messy

Sustaining success can arguably be more challenging than beating Goliath.
Mar 10, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans guard JuJu Watkins (12) cuts the net after the Pac-12 Tournament women's championship game against the Stanford Cardinal at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
March 28, 2024

The Pac-12 Built a Women’s Basketball Powerhouse. Then Realignment Hit

The breakup is happening at the worst time for the sport.
March 22, 2024, Brooklyn, NY, USA; Northwestern Wildcats guard Brooks Barnhizer (13) and Northwestern Wildcats guard Boo Buie (0) react in overtime against the Florida Atlantic Owls in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at the Barclays Center.
March 27, 2024

‘An Expensive Game’: March Madness and NIL Collectives Are Intertwined

At schools nationwide, collectives are fueling NCAA tournament runs and vice versa.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Dunham's Sports
Multiple - USA Careers

‘Nothing Is Off the Table’: New AAC Commissioner Isn’t Afraid of the Controversial Ideas

Tim Pernetti told reporters he’s specifically interested in private equity—and didn’t rule out athlete employment or unionization models.
April 10, 2024

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer Retires With ACC Move Looming

She set the all-time coaching record with 1,216 wins.
April 10, 2024

Deion Sanders: NFL Teams Manipulate Draft Positions

Coach Prime joined ‘Front Office Sports Today’ to discuss the state of college football.

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
April 9, 2024

John Calipari’s Kentucky Exit Is As Slow and Awkward As a Dog in a Stroller

Calipari steps away from Kentucky with the Arkansas deal still unofficial.
April 9, 2024

Simultaneous Final Fours: An Untenable Logistical Conundrum

The women’s Final Four has gotten much too big to take place at the exact same time—in a different location—as its men’s counterpart.
April 8, 2024

With Back-To-Back Titles, UConn Proves Basketball Is About More Than Power

Unlike in FBS football, a non-Power 5 basketball school can dominate.
April 8, 2024

South Carolina’s Title Win Smashes Ratings Records in Caitlin Clark’s Finale

The NCAA title game became the most-watched women’s college basketball game.