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How to grow attendance at Aztec Football Games.

Mandatory Photo Credit: San Diego Sports Domination CEO &; Founder David Frerker

San Diego has always been known as a Americas Finest City. Who wants to sit in a stadium when you could spend the day at the beach? San Diego State has always had problems with attendance at home games. As admins of the Official SDSU Football (Student Run) Fan Page on Facebook we have been having hardcore discussions on how we can grow attendance to Aztec football games.

Mandatory Photo Credit: San Diego Sports Domination CEO &; Founder David Frerker

Mandatory Photo Credit: San Diego Sports Domination CEO &; Founder David Frerker

I truly believe that the game day experience begins on campus for any college football team and program. However, that is not the case at San Diego State. Game day begins when the Qualcomm parking lot gates open five hours before the game starts. My suggestion begins with an on campus party. San Diego State should attempt to get all of the students into the game. I have heard that most people who are not into sports have no clue when the games are. San Diego State Associated Students throw parties before the start of every semester called Aztec Nights. They could throw a block party (On Campus) on game day in which students, the community and alumni are all invited. Get the band, cheer squad, dance team and football team involved with this block party. We need to utilize the new Aztec Student Union. They have great food places such as Chipotle, Oggies Pizza Express (with a bar) and Habit Burger Grill. All of these places could and should be open on game day and after game day.  During basketball season all of these places would be closed after the game. You want the party to continue on campus and slowly move off. On top of these suggestions we could also do themed games. We have the Marines, Navy and Coast Guard in San Diego. That is three different games that you can invite the different branches of the military to attend the games. On homecoming SDSU should bring back the Greek Races. Tons of ideas floating around the community for themed games.

Transportation Option #1

We have an on campus trolley station that can take community members, students and alumni to the games. We need to make some sort of deal for the students and alumni of San Diego State University on game day. I would like to see SDSU bring back the free trolley passes for all students who present their football ticket at the gate. They could do discounted tickets for alumni who have a valid game day ticket.

Transportation Option #2

Bus all of the students, community members and alumni to the game from campus. We already have Aztec Shuttle vans that go around campus. You could make a special deal saying all students ride for free and alumni have to pay a small fee. Those who have season tickets would be able to get a free ride on the bus or shuttle. We need to have round the clock transportation to and from the games that is cheap and available.

We have around 40,000-50,000 students, grad students, facility and people who work at San Diego State. Right now we are not even getting 30% of those who attend or work at SDSU out to the games. This is a photo of the San Diego State Student section shortly before the Aztecs game against the University of Southern Alabama. Due to a lack of students they roped off the student section and sat the students next to the band. The announced attendance for this game was 18,194. That was the worst attendance at an Aztec football game since 2009 when they had 12,647 against New Mexico.

Mandatory Photo Credit: San Diego Sports Domination CEO &; Founder David Frerker

Mandatory Photo Credit: San Diego Sports Domination CEO &; Founder David Frerker

Here is a quick snap shot of the average SDSU Football Attendance since the 2009 season.

2014:

Non Conference Avg: 38,527

Conference Avg: 29,177

Total Avg: 32,405

2013:

Non Conference Avg: 37,555

Conference Avg: 31,058

Total Avg: 33,224

2012:

Non Conference Avg: 27,812

Conference Avg: 31,192

Total Avg: 30,878

2011:

Non Conference Avg: 45,835

Conference Avg: 37,477

Total Avg: 35,506

2010:

Non Conference Avg: 35,486

Conference Avg: 29,977

Total Avg: 34,132

2009:

Non Conference Avg: 31,660

Conference Avg: 20,866

Total Avg: 24,464

 

HERE IS THE  AZTECS NON CONFERENCE SCHEDULE FOR 2016-2018

2016: New Hampshire (Home), California (Home), Northern Illinois (Away), Southern Alabama (Away)
2017: UC Davis (Home), Arizona State (Away), Stanford (Home), Northern Illinois (Home)
2018: Stanford (Away), Sacramento State (Home), Arizona State (Home), Eastern Michigan (Home)

Playing good teams in my opinion really has nothing to do with anything. As long as you have the atmosphere and have done the marketing…. fans will come. That means marketing the game on Monday of every week. Getting the fan base fired up during the summer. Going to local parades and hanging out tickets. Here are some suggestions that have been provided by our Official SDSU Football (Student Run) Fan Page group members.

James Slater: One thing I know that would draw in students is this: All the big football programs, Ohio St., Penn St., Michigan etc all do themed games such as Penn St.’s white out, Virginia Tech does a game called the Orange Effect where all the students wear Orange. If we started hosting and promoting themed games like a black-out or Red Alert, you know damned well the student body would be into that. A.S. could distribute these red or black shirts and or towels to students before the games at the student tailgates or when fans enter the Q.

Adam McLane: You have to get the students out of that corner end zone on closer to the action. They put 5 million elementary school kids in the first 15 rows… move them out and put our students there.

Scott Reiter: Push the games in the dorms…make it part of the dorm competitions.

David Silva: I think they should kind of copy what the basketball team did. Coach should walk around giving away tickets.

Bob Ilko: Subscribe to Cal Bears facebook page and see all the things they do to beat the drum to fire up the fans. Easy to do videos of highlights, interviews, locker room, marching band, etc. Paying for same RiseUp post that never changes is not marketing. Send out Fight Song Friday Facebook posts with video. We should have video of the Mills to Smith TD pass. This week we should see the Penny 100 yd td. There is always something good at every game that can be promoted. Show the players and students excited and it will be contagious. The school posted a photo of the band in front of the tower on campus for a pep rally. If someone took a photo, how hard is it to record a video? It is a marching band for G-d sakes! Having better food and drinks at alumni tailgate. Went to Cal young alumni tailgate for $25 (all you can eat tri tip, salad, burgers, hot dogs and 4 kinds of beer). They had beer pong and corn hole games. Part of the band came and played. Do tailgates inside the stadium grounds so easier to set up/take down and livens up the atmosphere. Have less of the PA fake crap and have more of the band playing in between plays. If the band is seen less involved so are the fans. Playing We Will Rock You isn’t cutting it. Another Aztec first down by PA is great. Don’t sell tickets for the upper level. Send out emails to ticket subscribers once during the week to pump up interest and appreciation. I recommend also that the Athletics marketing dpt meet with a group of us at the end of the season to recap and make suggestions for next year.

Chet Carney: Social media advertising for the football team. 94,000 facebook fans would fill the Q and create a waiting list for season tickets. Use social media to pump up the game during the week. This week is Fresno State. Rivals forever. And nothing on social media about Saturdays game. If nothing shows up by Wednesday about the game, could be more bulldog fans than Aztecs Fans. If that is the case we might get 20K in attendance.

Gioia Manny Bonilla: An Aztec bus from LA and OC county. M (This is actually a great idea. We know that USC busses fans from San Diego up to see the games. I also have knowledge of opposing fan bases like Notre Dame that will buss fans from San Diego to LA for games against USC or UCLA.)

Bryan Browne: More flyers around campus. Even when i started here 3 years ago they passed out flyers with game info on them. Now i have to ask the ticket window or go online to check the schedule. The block party idea gets thrown around a lot but it is a lot of logistics and liability. I think the school should start letting students just go to th game without a ticket and be able to get in with a valid student id. That is what SJSU did when i went up there to watch sdsu beat my girlfriends school. That might get more students there. (My argument would be with the liability of a block party. SDSU does these parties at night during the summer. You would think that us more of a liability than during the day).

Jhim Ballesteros: Pregame traditions such as a free Aztec Rally for students on campus, which includes games, free food, prizes, and overall pumping up of students to go to the game. You’ll definitely bring in at least a couple thousand students. Then afterwards, have the buses pick up everyone at the rally to head over to the game.

Al Dave: The buses to the games would help along I believed with Friday night pep rallies with dorm against the dorms and fraternities and sororities against each other. Have a traveling trophy or award that goes to whoever won that week’s rally for their group. Could also work for departments against department. Yeah that apartment also needs to get The Show involved with football like it is in basketball. Yeah we probably need to move the student section / away from that corner and in somewhere where there more in the middle of the crowd in the stadium to add for the enthusiasm. (We talked about how The Show normally sits on the opponents sidelines away from the main body of the student section. We also talked about relocating the students to the middle of the field).

Nick Hernandez: Stop playing night games. Call me crazy, but I feel like a lot of the frats and sororities do stuff on Saturday nights–the exact time we’re playing football. (Sure they start later, but you have to get ready for the night/pregame at some point.) If we played more day games here and there, students could go to the game and still party that night. Past that? Win. A school with no football tradition can’t magically pack 50,000 people into their stadium on a weekly basis, they have to win first.

PLEASE COMMENT WITH YOUR OWN OPINION ON HOW WE CAN GET MORE PEOPLE OUT TO AZTEC FOOTBALL GAMES! 

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About DavidSDSU (958 Articles)
I graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Media Studies. I am also the Founder and CEO of San Diego Sports Domination. I am an award winning blogger and have been covering San Diego State Athletics and San Diego Sports for the past 8 years. I have written many guest articles and have appeared in many podcasts. I have been a guest on all San Diego Sports Radio & TV stations. My articles have been linked to news websites all over the United States. I run this website in my spare time for fun. At my day job, I am a Digital Assistant for STN Digital a Digital Marketing Agency that works in the Sports & Entertainment Industry.

3 Comments on How to grow attendance at Aztec Football Games.

  1. We aren’t the only team in the country with this issue. How do other NCAA teams with NFL venues get people in the stands?

    I know one MAJOR problem this year was the schedule. USD and USA were absolutely terrible scheduling. I know it was related to the Big East move not happening, but still. Playing two very poor quality teams isn’t going to get anyone excited. Even if your team is bad, people will show up to watch a good team play. (For example: Notre Dame and Navy will likely draw more for their Shamrock Series game than either of the bowls.)

  2. Marlin Britton // September 30, 2015 at 10:53 am // Reply

    Try to schedule All the California PAC 12 teams home and home. Then go after the Arizona PAC 12 teams. Those schools will travel the relatively short distance. Next get the service academies, NAVY, Air Force and Army. These are teams that will draw people. The City government must also be involved in helping promote the Aztecs just like they do for the Two Bowl games that they host.

    • That is a great idea! So far this is what the Non Conference Schedule looks like for the future.

      2016: New Hampshire (Home), California (Home), Northern Illinois (Away), Southern Alabama (Away)
      2017: UC Davis (Home), Arizona State (Away), Stanford (Home), Northern Illinois (Home)
      2018: Stanford (Away), Sacramento State (Home), Arizona State (Home), Eastern Michigan (Home)

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