On Monday, the NCAA released their annual men’s basketball attendance report and overall for college basketball, the news was slightly good but for the Northeast Conference, it continues a downward trend that began the season prior.
According to the report, 480 more fans attended men’s college basketball games across all levels on a per game basis this past season yet Division I home attendance took a small dip by 63 fans per game from the season before.
As for the NEC, for the second straight season, home attendance took a fall from the season prior. In the 2014-15 season, the NEC once again finished 32nd in Division I in total attendance and per game average. Last season, 147,345 fans attended NEC regular season and postseason tournament games in 140 home games which averaged out to 1,052 fans per game. That average is down 198 fans per game from the 2013-14 season. The NEC averaged 984 fans per game in their seven postseason tournament games last season.
NEC home attendance has dipped since a conference record-high of 231,355 fans in the 2012-13 season which was also the final season in which Quinnipiac and Monmouth were also members of the conference. NEC schools averaged 1,419 fans per game that season.
Here are the NEC home attendance figures for the past three seasons:
As the figures show from the chart above, only one team saw an increase in home attendance and that was St. Francis Brooklyn which saw their attendance increase by 120% thanks to their outstanding regular season as well as hosting a game in all three rounds of the NEC tournament which were all sell outs. The other nine NEC teams saw declines with LIU Brooklyn and Central Connecticut taking the biggest hits.
Last season saw LIU’s home attendance fall by 42% from the season prior and 48% from two season ago where they averaged an all-time high of 2,519 fans per game thanks to outstanding attendance numbers at their home games at the Barclays Center. LIU averaged 1,248 fans in their eleven home games at the Steinberg Wellness Center last season which actually isn’t terrible at all while also averaging 3,047 fans in three home games at Barclays although the 6,032 fans from LIU game against Hofstra in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival were not part of the NCAA’s report.
Central Connecticut’s home attendance dipped as well in a midst of a terribly disappointing 5-26 season. Attendance fell by 27% at Detrick Gym last season. Overall, attendance in the NEC fell by nearly 16% from the season before.
Wagner finished number one in home attendance in the NEC last season and has been the most consistent with their attendance numbers over the past three seasons. LIU Brooklyn even with the major dip still finished in second. Mount St. Mary’s was third.
Sacred Heart for the second straight season finished at the bottom in home attendance averaging 489 fans per game for a team that was 9-9 in the NEC and 15-17 overall. They were followed by FDU and surprisingly Bryant, who always appears to have big student crowds at the Chace Athletic Center for their games, were near the bottom.
In all, 19 of 32 Division I conference saw some kind of drop in fans per game average in 2014-15 which is actually an improvement from 21 out of 32 conferences whose attendance numbers fell in 2013-14. Other conferences who saw a average declines were the Patriot League, the Ivy League, the CAA, Atlantic 10 as well as power conferences such as the Big Ten, Big 12 and the Pac 12.
It will be interesting to see if all the new rule changes in men’s basketball next season help drive up the attendance numbers at both the Division I level as well as in the NEC.