Florida didn’t show up and got blasted by the Louisville Cardinals on Wednesday night in the Sugar Bowl. Fortunately for the Gators, few people watched the game live. The reported attendance of 54,178 was the worst Sugar Bowl attendance since 1939.
We knew going in that the attendance numbers would be mediocre as Florida fans failed to buy most of the tickets sold through the University. On the Louisville side, a subsidy from Papa Johns was required to sell more of the school’s allotment.
On the macro level, bowl attendance overall continues to slide even this year compared to last year’s bowl season.
While bowls like the Gator Bowl had the lowest attendance numbers since 2000, it’s worth noting that the Cotton Bowl is nearing a record as Oklahoma and Texas A&M fans are excited to pack the house in Dallas.
It begs the question whether the future playoff will be able to bring fans out. The assumption held by nearly every member of the media is that playoff games matter and, as such, fans will come. However, you’re asking fans to travel twice in a ten day or so span, possibly to two very different parts of the country. As many people struggle with dwindling discretionary spending and as the at-home experience continues to get better, you can call me skeptical.
Like the NFL, bowls are facing mighty attendance challenges. While the semifinal games will likely do well enough, the bowls on the outside looking in will likely see the attendance decline continue.
Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports