How does Notre Dame stack up in bringing in the crowds?

For several years I’ve been kicking around a college football stadium research idea.

Anyone who has ever attended games in the behemoth stadiums (stadia?) know that there is a practical limit if you want comfortable seats and good views. 75-80,000 is about the top.  But, let’s leave that aside.

My goal is not merely to count those who attend these games, but to put those numbers in a larger context. First, we have to look at the stadiums which have the most seats. Then we have to look at how close to capacity those stadiums are, on average.

These lists are readily available. 

But … they are misleading.  Howzat?  My evaluation will suggest a different way to look at those lists.

ND alums attended a school where virtually every student goes to the games.  NOTE:  As our number of students from Asia has increased, the percentage has dropped a bit, since they are coming from countries where CFB is not a big deal.  In any case, we still have about a 95 percent student attendance rate.

But, we have far fewer students than ALL of the Big-Stadium colleges.  Our number of students, as a ratio to stadium size, is very low compared to the Big Boys.  Another factor in attendance is the population of the surrounding areas.  ND is in a low Census Tract area, compared to the Big Boys. Another factor in attendance should be living alumni.  Again, Notre Dame has far fewer living alumni than the Big Boys.

The research I’m intending would have a chart like this:

Stadium seating capacity.  Stadium attendance averages. 

Number of total students, not including on-line.

Number of living alumni.

Census Tract/Metro Area Population.

It will not surprise you to learn that my expectation is that ND is going to stand out.

If I get more inspired, I’ll buckle down* and complete this research.  For the time being, I am doing a preliminary study of the football group formerly known as the Western Conference, Big 9, and Big 10.  I have no idea what they call it now.  See below……….

*I love this song and video.  I taught at two different military schools and the uniform of this school is identical to that of the first school where I taught — The Kentucky Military Institute.

Videos of Buckle Down Winsocki YouTube


Big Ten Colleges

Stadium Capacity, Average Attendance, Total enrollment, Undergrad enrollment, Grad enrollment, Alumni, Metro Area

Michigan                    108,000, 110,000, 50,000, 32,000, 18,000, 570,000, 4,000,000

Penn State                   107,000, 107,000, 48,000, 42,000, 6,000, 500,000, 160,000

The OSU                     103,000, 104,000, 60,000, 46,000, 14,000, 500,000, 2,200,000

Nebraska                     86,000, 87,000, 24,000, 20,000, 4,000, 300,000, 340,000

Wisconsin                   82,000, 74,000, 47,000, 36,000, 11,000, 450,000, 680,000

Michigan State           75,000, 69,000, 50,000, 40,000, 10,000, 530,000, 550,000

Iowa                            71,000, 69,000, 30,000, 22,000, 8,000, 120,000, 170,000

Illinois                        61,000, 43,000, 57,000, 35,000, 22,000, 500,000, 230,000

Purdue                         58,000, 57,000, 50,000, 38,000, 12,000, 400,000, 230,000

Minnesota                   53,000, 45,000, 54,000, 39,000, 15,000, 370,000, 3,700,000

Rutgers                       53,000, 51,000, 51,000, 36,000, 15,000, 470,000. 2,400,000

I..U.                             53,000, 47,000, 46,000, 35,000, 11,000, 580,000, 190,000

Maryland                    52,000, 32,000, 40,000, 30,000, 10,000, 400,000, 900,000

Northwestern              47,000, 29,000, 23,000, 9,000, 14,000, 260,000, 9,000,000

If I included USC in this list:

USC                            77,000, 65,000, 49,000, 21,000, 28,000, 450,000, 18,000,000

An interesting note is that the highest average attendance at The Big House is 115,000; at THE OSU is 107,000; and in the L.A. Coliseum is 105,000.  All these records were set with my favorite Midwestern parochial school being the opponent.  Quite a coincidence. 

What are ND’s numbers?

Notre Dame du Lac    77,000, 77,000, 13,000, 9,000, 4000, 110,000, 320,000

First of all, let’s get straight that attendance numbers are very misleading.  Why?  Sold seats does not mean occupied seats.  Occupied seats does not mean sold seats.  Clear?  In the former case, if a season ticket holder doesn’t show up, it doesn’t count against “attendance.”  In the second case, if a college has some empty seats on game day, they may donate them to kids groups and the like (Michigan and ND do it, so I’m guessing that most do). 

 Also, now that third parties (ticket brokers) are able to purchase blocks of tickets, they can sell them at whatever price they want.  They hold out for top dollar.  Once they have gotten their profit, they may have some left over on game day.  If they can’t peddle them, the tickets are actually “sold” but there is nobody sitting in them. 

What about the above numbers?  I figured that you have a big advantage in selling tickets if you have a lot of students.  I differentiated between undergrad and grad, because I believe the grad students, as a whole, may be less active in attending games.  I also added the number of living alumni, since they should be a large group of regular attendees.  I listed the Census Tract info because the larger number of folks within a short drive, the more easily they can attend — and afford to attend — games, either because of their affinity to the above teams, or because they like the visiting team, or because they like the match up.

What do the above numbers reveal?  Various stuff.  LOL.  If you haven’t nodded off already, you don’t need more to wade through.

Finally, there is also an interesting aspect of “income” from these home games.  Every team now has differential pricing, both for the seat location and the opponent.  Many teams require some kind of “seat fee” for season tickets or better seats.  All major stadiums now have some kind of luxury seating or suites.  Some schools require an alumni contribution to get on a preferred ticketing list.  All schools get some kind of TV revenue.

 Finally, and this is seldom mentioned by anyone, stadiums sell hot dogs and coke and other such food stuff, as well as team memorabilia.  This is not a small sum.  And, at ND, more than any other college — WAY more — the Bookstore brings in a King’s Ransom on football weekends.  Notre Dame football games, more than any other college, become weekend events, rather than merely four hours on a Saturday.  Folks coming in from a distance are more likely to be purchasing team memorabilia items.