EMPTY SEATS: Empty seats at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas for the UA-Texas A&M game illustrate a dip in college football attendance, a dip covered up at times by widespread inflation of attendance numbers.

The Wall Street Journal has football fans talking. It reports a decline in football game attendance, a decline masked by the practice of colleges to announce inflated game attendance figures, including at the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University.

The story is behind a pay wall, but David Bazzel noted on Twitter that the article said  UA actual home attendance was 58 percent of the number of tickets scanned. A Journal chart also showed inflated attendance at ASU. A snippet from the article:


When Arkansas hosted No. 21 Auburn, scanned attendance was more than 25,000 lower than announced attendance. Overall last season, Arkansas’s scanned home attendance was 58% of its announced attendance as the Razorbacks went 4-8. Nonetheless, Reynolds Razorback Stadium is reopening Saturday after a $160 million renovation that increased capacity by about 4,000. An Arkansas spokesman declined to comment.

The phenomenon has been noted  and chronicled with photos of stadiums showing many empty seats despite high announced attendance counts.

Deadspin explained how the figres were derived.


The WSJ sent records requests to “nearly 100” public universities with football programs to uncover the actual count of scanned tickets from last year’s football season, then compared those responses with the “official” juiced numbers. With the exception of Navy, every school who reported back exaggerated their paid attendance at least a little bit. The most egregious offender found, by percentage, was Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers played six games in the newly renovated 15,000-capacity Brooks Stadium in 2017, but only scanned a full-season total of 15,248 tickets last season despite announcing an official season attendance of 89,754.

Is it too much to ask institutions of higher education to give accurate attendance counts? Or at least stop announcing bogus counts? Perhaps it’s time for standing FOI requests on football game attendance.