The Charlotte 49ers are on track for the worst season attendance at Halton Arena since 1997
The atmosphere of a sold-out college basketball game is rare and elusive. Just imagine if Charlotte could experience this on a regular basis. Or, better yet, just imagine if Charlotte could fill 70% of their on-campus arena.
Attendance this year is utterly pathetic. This season’s attendance is the lowest in Alan Major’s tenure as the head coach of the 49ers. But to put into context, we’ve been on a steady decline since the previous head coach.
In 2009-10, the season in which Bobby Lutz was fired, the 49ers averaged 6,321 during the first 11 home games of the season. That’s approximately 69.4% of Halton Arena’s total seating capacity of 9,105.
The following year, 2010-11, Major’s first year as head coach, the 49ers averaged 6,192 during the first 11 home games of the season (the game against Tennessee that was played at Time Warner Cable Arena was factored in). That’s a difference of approximately 129 fans from the year before.
The least significant drop in attendance took place the following year, 2011-12. The 49ers averaged 6,132, which is approximately 67.3% of Halton Arena’s total seating capacity.
But here’s the kicker, the 49ers aren’t anywhere near that this season. Despite Charlotte’s 16-4 overall record and 4-2 Atlantic 10 record, the 49ers are averaging just 5,726 fans this season. That’s 62.8% of Halton Arena’s total seating capacity.
These numbers are not a direct representative of the actual number of fans in attendance.
And I know the attendance average will go up after the games against UMass (homecoming) and VCU. I would be stupid to think those wouldn’t have high attendance numbers. The point of this story is to raise awareness of the lack of attendance during the first 11 home games played this season.
The reasoning behind this varies from person-to-person, but it’s almost evident that students, fans, alums, are not buying into the current Charlotte record.
Everyone should agree that Charlotte’s non-conference schedule has greatly affected the optimism this season. Wins over Texas State, Lamar, Northeastern and Oral Roberts, most certainly didn’t help their cause.
Humiliating losses at Miami (46-77), at Richmond (61-81) and at George Washington (54-82) gives those who question the legitimacy of Charlotte’s record an extra leg to stand on.
While I think Charlotte is a potential NIT team, there was plenty of talk about possibly making the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening now.
If people are okay with the lack of attendance, then so be it. But as a student, you have an invested interest to be concerned.
My last column was to raise awareness of the lack of tradition and the embarrassment of not knowing the words to our alma mater. This piece is to shed the light that there is a problem and others need to challenge those in power to find a way to correct it.
The most common excuse that I hear on a regular basis is that football will change everything. Sure, it will, but don’t think things will get better in other sports just because of it.
Charlotte had the opportunity to cash in on being a member of the Atlantic 10, which has turned out to be a haven for college basketball’s elite.
The addition of Butler and VCU most certainly helped the league’s stature, but unfortunately, Charlotte is looking to Conference USA hoops with hopes of running that league.
If that’s not enough to excite the base, then it’s probably just a lost cause.
I’m not sure of the dynamic of this university or why it seems as if everyone just settles for mediocrity. But it can be frustrating. Most students are frustrated – just look at the upper level of the student section during a game for further proof – some alums are frustrated, and the city of Charlotte could not care less about what this basketball team can or will do. The team is hardly even discussed on local sports talk radio.
It’s time to find a way to become elite. Other schools are catching up and surpassing us. And, no, it’s not just because we haven’t had a football team. There are other reasons. Find it. Challenge it. Correct it.
Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll work on the attendance for women’s basketball games. After all, they’ve been far more consistent in recent years.
Average home season attendance at Halton Arena:
1997 – 5, 544
1998 – 6, 717
1999 – 6, 676
2000 – 6, 849
2001 – 7, 108
2002 – 7, 484
2003 – 6, 423
2004 – 7, 381
2005 – 7, 577
2006 – 6, 641
2007 – 6, 026
2008 – 7, 309
2009 – 6, 184
2010 – 6, 156
2011 – 6, 069
2012 – 6, 001
2013 – 5, 726 **
** Only 11 of 16 home games played.
Information from NCAA