The Daily Gamecock

Garnet Army shrinks in 2011 men's season

Student attendance consistency falls short of 2,500 ticket allotment

Average attendance at South Carolina men’s basketball home games has dropped by more than 1,000 since last season.

Through 15 home games in the 2010-11 season, the team has drawn 157,352 fans, averaging 10,490 per game. These figures are significantly down from last season’s average of 11,994 in 16 home games.

Student attendance has fallen along with overall attendance, dropping to an average of 1,200 per home game this season compared to 1,557 last season. Both figures fall well short of the allotment of 2,500 student tickets for each home game.

The reason? According to USC’s sports marketing director Eric Nichols, the “lack of standout names coming into the season may have been a possible drawback in terms of fan attraction.”

But he expects the Gamecock fans to come back.

“I think many have seen what players like Bruce Ellington can bring to Gamecock basketball both in talent and in style of play, which will certainly lead to more fans in Colonial Life Arena in the near future,” Nichols said. “Both student and general attendance numbers are down slightly, along with season ticket sales. However, of the five SEC games played when students were in session, we have been at or near the student capacity in two of them.”

Attendance this season topped out at the Jan. 22 sellout versus Kentucky, but no other game has drawn more than the 12,408 fans present for the Nov. 12 home opener against Elon. On average, fans have filled just 58 percent of the Colonial Life Arena’s 18,000-seat capacity. The team has not been so poorly supported in numbers since 2006, when it attracted an average of just 9,090 fans per home game.

“You do notice the low attendance,” said first-year broadcast journalism student Rixon Lane . “It takes away some of the excitement in the building when you look around and see so many empty seats.”

Despite the empty seats, Lane said he will continue to go to the games to support his fellow Gamecocks.

“As a member of the Garnet Army, I will support our basketball teams no matter how many fans are there,” he said.

The men’s team hosted Ole Miss Tuesday night and will play its final home game of the season against Tennessee March 3.