Modern attendance is a gut shot

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GavinDonos
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Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by GavinDonos » Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:17 pm

I remember as a kid that MSU would often clock 4-6k fans per game during conference play. That’s when the Big Sky played games on a Friday / Saturday rotation. Non-Bozeman Cat families would travel to Bozeman late Friday, catch that night’s game, stay in Bozeman, hang out in town or go skiing Saturday (day) then go watch the second leg of the series that night… it was a lot of fun, and there were significantly larger crowds. Coincidence?

The Cat/Gris game drew 3400 fans this Sunday. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I also remember when C/G had fans “hanging from the rafters” with 8k plus in the field house. It was an unfortunate afterthought this weekend, probably due to the football hubbub, but still…. It should’ve been a marquee matchup!

Is there anything we can do as ‘Cat BBall fans to improve the general atmosphere? These guys are good. We already know that Bozeman isn’t going to pack the house on a given night, that sucks. But unfortunately the majority of statewide fans aren’t going to pony up for a three night stay in Boz or plug two separate road trips per home week, let alone a one night stand for a two hour game. It takes longer to get a table at Old Chicago these days!!

It just makes me sick seeing the brick 2/3 empty on a good night.

I don’t have any answers, I just pine for the old days and hope something can be done to rejuvenate Big Sky basketball. It just stinks when the majority of schools in our conference don’t expect people to show up for games… the MT schools are different. We are blowing off thousands of fans every year with this lax scheduling system. That includes AD/BBall base revenue as a side effect.

Please discuss and let me know if I’m just a poor old fogey who doesn’t care enough about Bobcat basketball to travel to a three day home stand! This needs to be fixed. I want to fill the brick… without the curtains for help.
Last edited by GavinDonos on Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Common Cat
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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by Common Cat » Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:26 pm

I think you are underestimating how many Cat fans were still traveling or just getting home.


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GavinDonos
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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by GavinDonos » Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:39 pm

Common Cat wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:26 pm
I think you are underestimating how many Cat fans were still traveling or just getting home.
I’m excited to see how many Frisco fans show up for the 4pm Southern Utah matchup this Saturday. Im not trying to be a dick, but I’ll be surprised if we crack 2k, and will gladly eat my hat if just 1/8 of the Frisco fans show up at the brick to cheer on the BBall team.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by Common Cat » Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:45 pm

GavinDonos wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:39 pm
Common Cat wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:26 pm
I think you are underestimating how many Cat fans were still traveling or just getting home.
I’m excited to see how many Frisco fans show up for the 4pm Southern Utah matchup this Saturday. Im not trying to be a dick, but I’ll be surprised if we crack 2k, and will gladly eat my hat if all of them show up at the brick.
Be patient, Cat fans just had a whirl wind type month. I doubt many have really committed to basketball season while Football was making its mercurial run. It'll come around. Bobcat fandom is at an all time high.


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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by BelgradeBobcat » Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:51 pm

Blame the conference for scheduling the conference's biggest rivalry game over Christmas break...and on the same weekend of the FCS Championship game where one would think a Montana school would have a shot at getting there.

That being said, men's basketball attendance took a big hit during the Huse and Fish years. People found other stuff to do and it's been really hard to get it back. Students don't seem to care at all.

Football being really, really good probably doesn't help either...and Bobcatnation is collectively just getting back and is exhausted after this weekend (I know I am). Huge game on Saturday against SUU-we need to show up for that one.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by GavinDonos » Mon Jan 10, 2022 11:24 pm

Common Cat wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:45 pm
GavinDonos wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:39 pm
Common Cat wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:26 pm
I think you are underestimating how many Cat fans were still traveling or just getting home.
I’m excited to see how many Frisco fans show up for the 4pm Southern Utah matchup this Saturday. Im not trying to be a dick, but I’ll be surprised if we crack 2k, and will gladly eat my hat if all of them show up at the brick.
Be patient, Cat fans just had a whirl wind type month. I doubt many have really committed to basketball season while Football was making its mercurial run. It'll come around. Bobcat fandom is at an all time high.
I hope you are right Common Cat! I surely don’t doubt you on our fandom, I just think the quirky scheduling has an overall negative effect on statewide fan access. No doubt we turn out in force to the Natty in Frisco… that made me proud. We had three weeks to scrimp and prepare for one game. That’s easy. 8k+ ‘Cat fans in the stands.

I want it to be that easy to get 4K in the brick, IN BOZEMAN, on the front end of a conference BBall weekend. Seems like a long shot.

Heck, we haven’t been able to do that on the back end for 20+ years now!

Coach Sprinkle remembers them good ole days. I am confident he can bring us back to them.



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GavinDonos
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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by GavinDonos » Mon Jan 10, 2022 11:30 pm

BelgradeBobcat wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 10:51 pm
Blame the conference for scheduling the conference's biggest rivalry game over Christmas break...and on the same weekend of the FCS Championship game where one would think a Montana school would have a shot at getting there.

That being said, men's basketball attendance took a big hit during the Huse and Fish years. People found other stuff to do and it's been really hard to get it back. Students don't seem to care at all.

Football being really, really good probably doesn't help either...and Bobcatnation is collectively just getting back and is exhausted after this weekend (I know I am). Huge game on Saturday against SUU-we need to show up for that one.
Good points. Our mediocrity in BBall since ‘95/‘96 hasn’t helped a bit. How do we get the students engaged again? They can be the driving force as far as atmosphere goes.

I’ve tried hammering them during time-outs with high velocity tennis balls shot from a potato gun, but that just seems to make them scatter and run back to their dorms. Should I try shooting t-shirts instead? Maybe a face full of Wheat Montana coupons?

I’m open to ideas!!



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by MSU01 » Tue Jan 11, 2022 6:25 am

I wonder if basketball attendance isn't to some extent a victim of the recent success of the football program. Especially for fans who don't live in Bozeman, it can cost a LOT of money to pay for the Bobcat Club donation, tickets, tailgate spot, hotel rooms, etc. to attend all the football games - but clearly many are happy to make that investment. Football is now the undisputed king at MSU and I think it's going to take more consistent success at the Weber/UM level for basketball to get back to its 80s/90s level of popularity.


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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by GoldstoneCat » Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:03 am

The team has been pretty bad since the early oughts, with occasional bouts of competence. Mick was still there when i started going to games, and i remember 04, 05, 06 cat griz games that were full. I remember a game against Rodney Stuckey EWU on a Saturday that had close to 5k. But a combination of poor play, PISS POOR nonconference home opponents and scheduling (hard to build any momentum), and football dominating the hype all over the state (media coverage of MBB nowhere near what it used to be, skyline does great but most others pay little attention), has broken the connection between bozeman/ bobcat nation and the basketball programs. I don't know if a couple big sky titles would fix it? I believe the neutral site tournament hurts our teams as well, i have been to hosted tournaments in Missoula and bozeman and the place was electric. Boise? Fun, perhaps, but not an atmosphere that will attract fans.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by Rich K » Tue Jan 11, 2022 9:21 am

While checking the football version of this I ran across the MBB numbers. While being in the top 100 is good us users and consumers of social media might need to step up the game and do a admittedly limited part of generating interest.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by kennethnoisewater » Tue Jan 11, 2022 2:50 pm

I do think there's still enough interest in Basketball at MSU to get a better crowd for Cat/gris, but this was a combo of a lot of factors.

One that I think matters a little bit is the lack of MT players on the roster. I don't see that changing though, as we're just not producing enough talent in this state.

But probably bigger factors are the timing of the game, both with holiday break and a lot of people traveling back from Frisco, as mentioned. If this game was two weeks later I really believe it's a considerably bigger crowd. I don't think it's a full crowd like the old days though, and I hope that gets fixed. Things definitely seem to be heading in the right direction.

I don't know if this is a reason or not, but it does seem like basketball is less popular outside the African-American community these days. It has become more of an urban sport. This will probably sound insensitive, but a campus largely full of white kids doesn't care as much about basketball as they did 20-30 years ago. Am I way off base in saying that?

Seems like Sprinkle, Costello, and the rest of MSU is making all the right moves to get things going again. Some of my favorite memories of college were basketball games. But that arena needs to be full if students are really going to get into a game. I'd like to see a (small-ish) dedicated basketball facility built so the fieldhouse could be used for track and as an IPF for football (yes I know it's not 100 yards long, but I think it would work anyway).


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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by arvcat2 » Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:56 pm

It probably would have little effect on attendance, but the Big Sky scheduling of the MBB & WBB against the same teams (one at home, the other on the road), on the same day, with the tip offs usually at the same time or an hour apart has made little sense to me. Given a choice, I know most would choose MBB over WBB, but still, this format does not do any favors for teams or fans. If the conference is hung up on requiring the travel day in between games, have the MBB play Thursday & Saturday & WBB play Friday & Sunday or vis versa.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by Bobcat4Ever » Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:45 pm

I don’t think that’s insensitive at all. It’s data. I’d like to know how many intramural basketball teams there are now. It was a big deal in my undergrad years of ‘67 - ‘71. Student teams. Faculty teams. Two games a week plus Student vs. Faculty for blood in my department. What I have noticed over the years is that we attended with the same people for 40+ years. And there were less and less students and families attending — the heads were noticeably grayer. It used to be dirt cheap to go to a game. Does expense play a part? Has soccer pulled basketball interest away? Basketball games were a perfect date night for my student cohort — but students don’t seem to date much anymore. Questions that all may play a part.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by Bobcat4Ever » Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:49 pm

arvcat2 wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:56 pm
It probably would have little effect on attendance, but the Big Sky scheduling of the MBB & WBB against the same teams (one at home, the other on the road), on the same day, with the tip offs usually at the same time or an hour apart has made little sense to me. Given a choice, I know most would choose MBB over WBB, but still, this format does not do any favors for teams or fans. If the conference is hung up on requiring the travel day in between games, have the MBB play Thursday & Saturday & WBB play Friday & Sunday or vis versa.
I complained about simultaneous times to the conference a couple of years ago. It sure kills the live TV audience. I think separating them would give a boost to WBB especially at MSU because they have a program and team that is worth following. They said something about travel and equal opportunity and who knows what.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by lv2hoop » Tue Jan 11, 2022 9:20 pm

Sports attendance is more fickle than when many of us were younger. First it was Cable TV that people were more content to stay home and watch ESPN. Millenials are different too, they have Snapchat, Tinder, and social media to keep them entertained. I think the 50 and over crowd is still enthralled by live sports and the social aspect of going to live music or live sports. We could have it a lot worse, as I watch a ton of college hoops on ESPN and some venues are virtually empty.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by Cataholic » Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:28 am

It is not just college that has suffered. Basketball has lost popularity at the high school level as well. When I was in high school back in the 80’s, going to a basketball game was the social event of the week. The student section was always packed with over half of the student body attending. Now, AA schools are lucky if 50 students show up for a game.

I think the lack of interest today is partly because kids have more options for entertainment. Xbox, PS5, computers, movies and other options all take away some of the students. In college, more freedom away from home offer more options like skiing, hiking, partying, etc….

NBA games are still popular today but these have become more than just basketball events. They are full blown entertainment events with pyrotechnics and non-stop entertainment between whistles. Throw in social media and celebrities and these become “can’t miss” events.

Not sure how to increase attendance, but maybe we need special promotional events to get people in the door and then show them a good time. Maybe a game day sponsor can give $500 via a raffle to one student in attendance at every game? Do it in the 4th quarter and entertain the heck out of those students after getting them in the door.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by Bobcat4Ever » Wed Jan 12, 2022 12:00 pm

It’s an interesting irony for WBB. The players are better than ever, the teams as a whole are better, but fewer want to watch. Well, like Yogi said “If they aren’t going to come to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by ilovethecats » Wed Jan 12, 2022 1:59 pm

As has been pointed out, there are many factors playing into low attendance. Many of them pretty tough to fix. In regards to Cat-gris, I throw that one out the window. Timing of that one couldn't have been worse. Tons of people didn't make it back from Frisco until Monday, let alone early enough Sunday to make it to the Brick.

As great as the technology is these days, and our streaming options which I LOVE, they will definitely impact attendance. Like many here, I remember 30+ years ago where Cat games in the winter months were an event you wanted to attend. I remember going to friends houses who's parents would make early dinners and have their friends and kids come over for a little pregame festivity before carpooling to the arena. But again, at that time your choice was to either GO to the game, or listen to Dean on the radio.

The Friday-Saturday schedule was also ideal. Fans from out of town could come Friday afternoon, get a room for a couple nights, and make a weekend of it. Which brings me to another huge issue right now. Bozeman is so far from the Bozeman it was 20-30 years ago. A person with even a modest budget could afford a hotel for a couple nights, as well as all the eating out one would have to do while in town. Not even close to that now. You would need to be pretty well off to be an out of town fan and be able to afford one long weekend in Bozeman these days, let alone every time the Cats are at home. So people are choosing to stay home, stream the game, drink beers from the recliner, and save a fortune.

The end all be all solution to this problem, as it always is; is winning. And even then it won't be a quick fix. But when this team starts winning the league consistently, making a little run in the Big Dance, and making Cat games an event you WANT to see, it will slowly start to change. But as it stands now with how expensive rooms are, and how short-staffed all establishments are (making eating out a pretty miserable experience) I can't blame people for opting to stay home and stream the games.



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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by MSU01 » Wed Jan 12, 2022 2:20 pm

ilovethecats wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 1:59 pm

As great as the technology is these days, and our streaming options which I LOVE, they will definitely impact attendance. Like many here, I remember 30+ years ago where Cat games in the winter months were an event you wanted to attend. I remember going to friends houses who's parents would make early dinners and have their friends and kids come over for a little pregame festivity before carpooling to the arena. But again, at that time your choice was to either GO to the game, or listen to Dean on the radio.
I agree that the availability of free or inexpensive streaming options for most games now definitely has an effect, especially on those living outside the Bozeman area who can now enjoy the games from their couch for a $7/month ESPN+ subscription instead of having to take an entire day or more to travel to Bozeman and back in often poor weather/road conditions. Back in the day the two Cat/Griz games were televised and that was it, so you had to show up at the Brick if you wanted to see the team play more often.


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Re: Modern attendance is a gut shot

Post by MSU01 » Wed Jan 12, 2022 2:26 pm

Bobcat4Ever wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 12:00 pm
It’s an interesting irony for WBB. The players are better than ever, the teams as a whole are better, but fewer want to watch. Well, like Yogi said “If they aren’t going to come to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”.
Actually the WBB program has seen the kind of dramatic increase in attendance numbers that we'd love to see from the men's program. In 2014-15 they averaged 1,065 fans. Three years later in 2017-18 they averaged 2,397 fans and maintained an average of over 2,000 for 2018-19 and 2019-20. That probably gives a good roadmap for the best way for the men's team to get their attendance numbers up - finally win a conference title and play in the NCAA Tournament like the women did in 2017!


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