Attendance has been a roller coaster all season

By Benjamin Tucker, @BenTucker_DE

SIU men’s basketball has been inconsistent as of late, following a four-game winning streak with a four-game losing streak during the last month. The attendance in the team’s home games has been just as unpredictable.

On average, 63 percent of SIU Arena, which holds 8,339 people, is full. This is a 4 percent raise from last season.

Junior guard Leo Vincent said he has noticed how full the arena can be. 

Advertisement

“The home crowd definitely plays their part,” Vincent said at a news conference earlier this month. “When you got support like that behind you, that’s always a confidence booster. That can always play a part against your opponent as well. When they’re on a run and we come down and hit a three, we get our crowd in it, get momentum going our way, that all plays into the final score.”  

SIU had a problem filling the stands during the football season as well. The previous record low for Saluki Stadium’s average attendance was 8,554 in 2013, but that was broken this past fall with an average attendance of 7,750.

Tommy Bell, director of athletics, said there’s one factor to putting people in the stands, regardless of sport.

“It’s all about winning,” Bell said. “Winning helps everything. It generates excitement, buzz and enthusiasm.”  

That means Saluki basketball, which is 20-7 on the year, should be playing in front of fuller crowds. 

But other teams in the Missouri Valley Conference are having the same problem. Illinois State, which is second in conference and Evansville, which is third, are also having trouble filling the stands. 

{{tncms-asset app=”editorial” id=”281c7efe-d45a-11e5-b0ea-030333987568″}}

The team has noticed this.

“I think our crowd is unbelievable,” head coach Barry Hinson said earlier this month. “I’ve been here four years now, without question this year is the best our crowds have been. Our student body is starting to get into it.”

The student section attendance in SIU Arena has varied, increasing more over the past few weeks. Three-hundred and one students (4,441 total) attended the Illinois State game on Jan. 12, while 839 students (5,036 total) attended the Indiana State game on Jan. 20.

The 659 students who attended the sold-out home game against Wichita State on Jan. 9 seems small compared to the Indiana State game, as less than 10 percent of the crowd was students.

However, the home game against Evansville brought out more students — 1,014 of the 6,345 attendees got in with a student ID. 

Hinson showed his appreciation of the section after that game. Normally, one pizza is bought and slices are given to a few fans. But Tom Weber, associate athletic director, said there were 65 pizzas bought for the student section after the final buzzer.

“Somebody said the other night we’re getting back to the old days of the Dawg Pound, we’re not quite there yet,” Hinson said. “They can say what they want, I remember the old days, I was next to the Dawg Pound in the old days. We’re getting there and the students don’t know how much we appreciate them.”

Benjamin Tucker can be reached at [email protected] and 618-536-3307

Advertisement