The Vanderbilt Commodores haven’t been drawing well this year. Adam Sparks at the Tennessean writes that the current attendance at Memorial Gym, if it were to keep up the rest of the season, would be the lowest since 1964-65. And the 1964-65 team (which won the SEC) had the excuse that Memorial Gym’s capacity at the time was only 7,324.
Now, it’s a bit of an unfair comparison, because the current figure of 8,734 average attendance is through the first ten games of the season. The 2014-15 team ended the season averaging 8,862, but only was averaging 8,444 through ten games of the season (including just one SEC home game.) The usual pattern has been for Vanderbilt’s home attendance to pick up in SEC games, but the question this year is whether fans will come back around for a team that doesn’t appear to be in contention for an SEC title or a NCAA Tournament bid. Or, hell, an NIT bid.
The broader point is the slow drain since 2011-12, when Vanderbilt averaged 13,698 fans per home game. Since then, Vanderbilt has averaged 10,637 (2012-13), then 9,534 (2013-14) and 8,862 (2014-15.) The 2015-16 team, which was a preseason Top 25 team, had an uptick back to 11,135 — but last year’s team averaged just 9,636. The last few years of Kevin Stallings saw fans stop showing up and Bryce Drew’s two teams haven’t really reversed that trend.
Granted, that trend seems to be college basketball in general. But if there’s an easy way to get clicks, it’s by pointing out that fans aren’t showing up. And here we join in just before a sea of blue shows up at Memorial Gym on Saturday. We are officially writing clickbait for teenage girls.