Utah State's attendance down at the Spectrum
With four home losses this year, the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum ain't exactly what it used to be. Louisiana Tech, Denver, Saint Mary's and UT-Arlington have all come to Logan and succeeded.
Part of that has been injuries, part of that has been newcomers to the team, and maybe part of it is slumping attendance at the games.
With two of the WAC's weakest teams left on the slate, the Spectrum is looking at a drop in home attendance for the third straight year. The Aggies have averaged 8,047 fans per home contest at this point, a drop from 8,497 per game last season. And with the injuries to star players and games against Texas State and UT-San Antonio ahead - not exactly banner conference opponents - the average could dip below the 8,000-man threshold.
The Aggies hit a high of 9,792 fans in the 2008-09 season, when the team was 30-5 and went to the NCAA tournament. It was an improvement of nearly 1,000 fans per game from the year before. Since then, the average has dropped: 8,732 the next year, then 8,497 last season.
The numbers seem to indicate that injuries and the impending departure to the Mountain West watered down some interest this season. In the last five years, the Aggies haven't averaged fewer than 9,270 fans per home game during conference play - except for this season, at 7,525.
The best-attended game this season was against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, way back in November 17. A reported crowd of 9,673 showed up. The last game with more than 9,000 in attendance was against San Jose State in January, when Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed were healthy and the team was on one of the nation's longest winning streaks.
Anecdotally, the empty patches above the student section on the east side have been noticeable almost every game.
When Utah State played New Mexico State on ESPNU, fans rolled colored butcher paper across the sections. On the east side, the paper went a little more than halfway up the seats. There were 7,646 at the game, which was still better than average.
Utah State's fifth-place spot in the conference standings and its numerous injuries are probably one factor. But so is watered down competition in a WAC that isn't what it used to be either. Texas State and UTSA, two programs the Aggies never played before this season, probably don't speak much to fans.
One of the best attended conference games came against Louisiana Tech when the football team was signing autographs. It's also been an exceptionally snowy winter across the state, which may prevent some fans from getting up for the games.
Attendance can be a fickle measurement, and any factor could play a part. Utah State still has the best attendance of any WAC team (New Mexico State is next with 6,116 fans per home game). But it's definitely down, which isn't doing much to help bolster the program's famous home court advantage.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon