Where are the fans going in Minnesota?

The University of Minnesota once shared the Metrodome with the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL).  As the stadium fell into disrepair, the University decided on a new stadium plan for their college football team, which lead the construction of TCF Bank Stadium, where the Golden Gophers now play their home games.  The stadium has just under 51,000 capacity, and was touted as a more friendly environment to watch college football than the Metrodome.

A new article in the Star Tribune notes that student season ticket sales for Minnesota football games have been on the decline.  In the first year in the stadium they were at 10,000 student ticket sales.  Year two was less than 8,000, year three was less than 6,000, and as it stands as of this moment, there is around 2,000 student season tickets which have been sold for games this year.  This drop has been very drastic, and people are starting to wonder what is going on.  Well team quality has not helped, as the Golden Gophers have been rather inept on the field in the past few years, and many are saying that this is driving people away.

There is also the novelty effect which should be considered.  In the sports economics research it is noted that new stadium often help boost attendance for about 5 years, after which attendance will return to the mean.  In this case, the stadium’s novelty really seems to be wearing off, and with poor performance of the team, it will be interesting to see how sales progress in the future.

Minnesota is in the opposite bag of the University of Missouri, which has sold out football student season tickets for the first time in their history.  The athletic department at Mizzou has said that around 46,500 season tickets have been sold, as the team and university prepare for their first year in the SEC.  People seem very excited about the great ticket sales numbers, but I would caution everyone to think that this will mean giant gains in attendance, as we could be dealing with a novelty effect of the team playing in the most dominant football conference in the country.  It also helps that Mizzou has a home game against Alabama, the defending national champions.

Hat-tip to Professor Tyler Hack in my department who alerted me to this article about Minnesota football attendance.

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