Saluki Stadium attendance consistent after two seasons

By Gus Bode

Fan attendance at university sporting events not only creates a unique home-field advantage for the team, it also aids in the overall university experience.

To create this environment, the university depends on different marketing schemes and the help of student organizations to promote the events. SIU athletic director Mario Moccia said this effectively boosts the success of SIU.


Empty seats surround Saluki fans Saturday at the last home football game of the season at Saluki Stadium. Though home game attendance was steady throughout the season, there has been a decline since the beginning of the season. The final game attendance was 7,447, the lowest of the year. Nathan Hoefert | Daily Egyptian

The average attendance per game at Saluki Stadium was down from 2010 by a slight margin, according to the Saluki Athletics website. SIU had a total of 50,702 fans in 2011, an average of 10,140 per game, compared to 65,338 in 2010, a 10,889 average.

The schedules differed with five 2011 home games and six in 2010.The drop in attendance between the two seasons is subject to skewed numbers.

Moccia said unfortunate events could have cost the program a few thousand fans.

“Some of the attendance, at least in the sport of football, going into the new stadium, we were coming off of a conference championship as well as the excitement of a new stadium,” Moccia said. “This year it was bad luck for us that we had fall break on one of the football weekends.”

To put things in perspective, the Salukis traveled to Oxford, Miss., for the second game of the season to play Ole Miss. The attendance of that game was 58,504, nearly 8,000 more fans than the Salukis had in their stadium the entire season.

While differences exist, there are close similarities between the two schools. According to both university websites, Ole Miss has less than 21,000 students, about 1,000 more than SIU. According to the 2010 Census from the Census Bureau, Oxford, has less than 19,000 residents, while Carbondale has less than 26,000.


Another difference is that Ole Miss competes in the Southeast Conference, the conference that has supplied the previous five Bowl Championship Series title teams.

Moccia said one factor between the two schools is the geographical attention they receive. He said he considers SIU’s fanbase to be more regional, while Mississippi has more of a state-wide following.

Nevertheless, he said the atmosphere created by the Saluki events has benefited the university and created both revenue and enrollment increases. Moccia said the athletics department has actively used social media and advertisements, and has tried to work closely with student-based organizations.

Sam Donets, the communication director for the Dawg Pound, said the success of universities goes hand-in-hand with the fan support the teams receive.

“That’s really the only way how people brag about their colleges, unless you go to an Ivy League school,” Donets said. “Other than that, everyone always refers back to their football team or their basketball team with their college.”

He said it is important for a school to have the type of fan organization such as the Dawg Pound to assist alumni support and give the student body something to reflect on after graduation.

“It’s all about pride and being able to show it,” Donets said. “The more fans, or the more pride, the better your school is. Everybody wants to be a winner.”