Here’s why the fans aren’t quite showing up like many predicted in the final Big East season.
Despite this being the swan song for Big East basketball as we know it, the league is suffering through a down year in attendance. Mike Waters penned a piece crunching the numbers, and here was the breakdown of Syracuse’s role.
“Syracuse’s attendance at the Carrier Dome is off slightly from the 2011-12 season. Last year, the Orange drew 23,618 fans on average, while this year the number is down to 21,870, a figure that still leads the Big East.”
There’s a pretty good reason for this:
“Syracuse will have just four of its 10 Big East home games on weekend days. The Orange has always drawn bigger crowds for weekend dates.”
Plus, the Louisville game hasn’t been counted yet. But you ARE adding in the record-crowd of 35,000+ to the mix, so SU can’t be crying too much about flawed numbers. And as the last go-round in the conference, we figured fans would be taking advantage of the last time to see some of these teams in the Dome.
But it just doesn’t feel close to the magic of last year. In ’11-’12 the season built to a crescendo (minus the Fab Melo January disaster). A team that seemed to have senior leadership (Scoop and K-Jo), dynamic scoring (Dion), depth (everywhere) and muscle inside (Fab) had everyone thinking New Orleans would draw in Jim Boeheim for another Final Four through karma.
This year’s team early on looked the part, but the ship started showing some major leaks as soon as the conference season rolled around. It’s no reach to suggest Orange Nation just doesn’t have the same optimism surrounding this year’s squad.
An interesting note, however:
“Syracuse remains the biggest draw in the Big East when it plays away from home.
Syracuse has played eight Big East road games so far this season. The Orange has attracted the biggest crowd for its opponent five times. The other three games were played on weekdays: at Providence, at Connecticut, and at Marquette. Syracuse still accounted for the second (Providence) or third (UConn and Marquette) largest crowd of the season at those schools.”
Another reminder of the brand Boeheim built. Everyone wants a chance to see the Orange. In some cases, it’s the last time SU could be traveling there. In others, SU alumni come out in droves. But overall, Syracuse has been one of the (if not THE) marquee programs of the conference over the last thirty years. It’s an event when Boeheim and those bright Orange jerseys and future NBA players come to town. You get to see the show.
Unfortunately that show is just not as sexy for the home fans. We don’t have a great feeling about how it will end.