Saluki football attendance on pace for 6-year low


By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Unless 10,410 or more people attend Saturday’s football game against Illinois State, this season’s average attendance will be the lowest in the 15,000-seat Saluki Stadium history. 

Through the first four games of this season, attendance averaged 8,091 fans per game. The lowest season average was 8,554 in 2013. 

Last season was the first increase in attendance from a previous season since Saluki Stadium opened in 2010. During its first four years, attendance had decreased every season.


Saluki Stadium’s single game lowest attendance was set this year with 5,509 attendees during the Oct. 10 73-26 win against Missouri State, which took place during fall break.

Athletic Director Tommy Bell said a variety of factors has contributed to the low attendance this year. 

“We do know that timing of weather had an effect … win-loss record had an effect,” he said. 

There was rainfall the morning of the homecoming game Oct. 24 against Youngstown State.

Yet, despite the team’s 3-6 record overall, the Salukis are 3-1 at home so far this season. 

Bell said the university depends on walk-up ticket buyers, so when these conditions exist, it’s hard to make money. 

Fans leaving mid-game has also been an issue this year, which Bell said matches a trend across the Football Championship Subdivision. 


“FCS football sees the highest [number of] people leaving during the third quarter or halftime,” he said. 

Luke Dvorak, a sophomore from Essex studying forest recreation and park management, said he usually stays until afternoon games end, but leaves night games early if he thinks he knows how the game will end. He also said he knows others leave night games early to go out and party at night.

For all four home games this year, the Salukis were either leading or within a touchdown of their opponent at halftime.

Bell said the Salukis marketing and promotion division has an on-campus plan to get more students to games, but still needs to find strategies that will draw students through the gates.

Both coach Dale Lennon and senior quarterback Mark Iannotti said the lower attendance has not impacted the team.

“We just play the game,” Lennon said. “We understand we don’t have the record people want, so attendance will not be where we’d like it to be. All we can do is just play as hard as we can.”

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @SCarleyDE