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Cal Basketball

Men's Hoops Attendance Slides for Fourth-Straight Season

April 5, 2020
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Despite posting its first winning home record for the first time in three seasons, attendance continues to slide at Cal men’s basketball games. This year, Cal hoops had a total attendance of 83,996 in 17 home games for an average of 4,941 per game. Playing just 16 home games last season, Cal still had a total attendance of 90,036 or 5,627 per game.

After hitting an attendance apex during the 2015-2016 season, Cal’s home attendance numbers have dropped consistently. In 2015-2016, when the Bears went 23-11 and 18-0 at Haas Pavilion, the total attendance in 18 games was 183,291 or 10,182 per game. Even with 19 games the following season, Cal’s total attendance dropped to 169,298 with an average of 8,910. Cal’s home record that season was 15-4.

Year 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Cal Total Attendance 83,996 90,036 125,386 169,298 183,293 145,775
Games 17 16 17 19 18 18
Cal Average Attendance 4,941 5,627 7,375 8,910 10,182 8,099
Cal Conference Rank 8 8 7 4 3 4
Conference Average 7,121 7,431 7,747 8,170 7,731 7,426
National Average N/A 4,659 4,607 4,633 4,744 4,754
Cal Record (home record) 14-18 (12-5) 8-23 (7-9) 8-24 (5-12) 21-13 (15-4) 23-11 (18-0) 18-15 (11-7)

Cal had a solid home record this season but was likely still lagging in attendance and fan support from the previous two seasons. The Bears combined for 16-47 over the past two seasons including 12-21 in Berkeley. 

Besides home-court advantage and program and team support, the obvious loss in declining ticket sales is revenue. In 2019, Cal generated $2,024,023 in ticket sales, which is the lowest amount since at least the 2008-2009 season. 

Operating Revenues and Expenses 2019 Men's Hoops 2018 Men's Hoops 2017 Men's Hoops 2016 Men's Hoops 2015 Men's Hoops
Ticket Sales $2,024,023.00 $2,646,527.00 $3,236,708.00 $3,576,103.00 $2,626,646.00
Total Revenue $8,549,969.00 $8,802,443.00 $10,854,933.00 $9,544,998.00 $9,581,657.00
Total Expenses $6,841,180.00 $7,267,290.00 $8,167,208.00 $9,935,699.00 $7,070,499.00
Profit $1,708,789.00 $1,535,153.00 $2,687,725.00 -$390,701.00 $2,511,158.00

Cal is certainly not alone in its attendance woes when it comes to college hoops. The national average has been declining steadily for more than a decade now. National averages have not been released by the NCAA yet for the 2019-2020 season, but the national average in 2019 was 4,659, up from 4,607 in 2018. That was the first increase in more than a decade, but obviously a very small uptick.

The Pac-12 has particularly had issues attracting fans to games. As a conference, the Pac-12 hasn’t finished higher than sixth in average attendance per game in more than a decade. For reference, in 2019, the Big Ten had the highest average attendance of 12,691 per game. The SEC averaged 11,527, the ACC had 10,912, the Big 12 had 10,170, and the Big East had 9,999. The Pac-12’s average was 7,431 which was more akin to the AAC which averaged 6,739 and MWC which averaged 6,447.

Team 2020 2019
Arizona 13,654 13,744
Utah 10,561 11,067
Arizona State 9,251 10,538
Washington 8,481 7,846
Oregon 8,038 8,531
Colorado 7,979 6,868
UCLA 6,706 8,269
California 4,941 5,627
Oregon State 4,742 5,261
USC 4,110 3,590
Stanford 3,819 3,894
Washington State 3,165 2,318

Even with the historically-low attendance, Cal’s per game average was higher than Oregon State, USC, Stanford, and Washington State. Among all Pac-12 schools, only four (Washington, Colorado, USC, and Washington State) saw their averages increase from last season to this season. 

Two factors seem to play a role in attendance boosts — the anticipation of a successful season and exciting new players. Looking at the four schools in the conference that boosted rates this year compared to last year, that explanation can be applied to most. Washington had both factors — a top recruiting class with high expectations of a run for the conference title. Colorado lacked the exciting incoming players but was also considered one of the favorites to take the conference title this season. USC also had one of the most exciting freshmen classes coming in this past season.

The momentum created from a fairly successful home performance this season is likely to boost Cal’s 2020-2021 attendance numbers. For the first time in a few years, there’s a bit more excitement and positivity surrounding Cal’s men’s hoops season. To see an even bigger attendance boost, Mark Fox could help himself and the program by bringing in a couple more intriguing recruits.

Discussion from...

Men's Hoops Attendance Slides for Fourth-Straight Season

2,667 Views | 26 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by oskidunker
Chabbear
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Just like in football, it doesn't help attendance when neither USC or UCLA come to Berkeley either. Also, only 5737 came for the biggest OOC game against St Marys.

HoopDreams
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interesting analysis

home attendance is a factor in recruiting too

players like playing in full stadiums

i've felt for a long time that both memorial and haas has too large a capacity, and that they should improve amenities and lower the seat count

for example, movie theaters have done this putting reclining seats that are wider, and have walking space in front of them

I'm not suggesting adding reclining seats, but spacing out the seats more adding more space between the next row. Memorial has done this well with the section where they took out every other row of seats, put more space between each of them, and added a table in front. I was given comp tickets for one game last year, and thought they were great seats. I would pay extra for those seats if they were in a better location on the east side

in Haas, I think they can add some type of box seats along the top of one side. It should also space the yellow premium benches giving more space between each 'seat'. If they feel it takes out too many seats of the higher price seats, they could add another row behind the existing seats.

Who knows, after COVID19, stadiums might be required to have a different standard for seating
socaltownie
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Comes back to Larry. We have a gosh darn sports network. This isn't hard. Games are played on Thursday and Saturday. Thursdays get a conistent tip. 7:30. If the Mountain Time zones want to tip at 7 or 630 great. Fox can get whatever "game of the week" they want. Saturday can vary more. Perhaps one or two Sunday games to correspond to the week you host your "rival". Everything thing else can be broadcast on PAC 12 network and the various sub channels. Stream it in case you are stuck with 1 game and want to watch the other..

I live 600 miles away but I can not IMAGINE trying to navigate unknown start times over the course of a season. The fact that Larry thinks this woks means he is truely one of the 1% - who has never tried to grapple with the reality that a game that tips at 6 p.m. requires far different planning than one at 8. In such world the response is to say "f it" and pick up tixs day off....which means that much more likelihood of blowing it off when something comes up.

And yes - football is worse and why fotball attendance is also down.

Take care of your Chicken
HoopDreams
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just saw something from a legit source predicting the changes in the US following COVID19

one of the things listed is more distance between seats in restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events, concerts, and other large events
ColoradoBear
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socaltownie said:

I live 600 miles away but I can not IMAGINE trying to navigate unknown start times over the course of a season.



You have a well thought out rant in terms of different planning for a 6pm vs 8pm start.

Only problem with it is that the p12 has announced start times before the season starts every year of the new TV contract.
ncbears
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Why the big jump in expense for 2016 hoops?
Best year - and the team operated at a loss?
socaltownie
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ColoradoBear said:

socaltownie said:

I live 600 miles away but I can not IMAGINE trying to navigate unknown start times over the course of a season.



You have a well thought out rant in terms of different planning for a 6pm vs 8pm start.

Only problem with it is that the p12 has announced start times before the season starts every year of the new TV contract.
Boy I thought they had varied this year. Perhaps I am just frustrated that they differ Thursday to Thursday so much.
Take care of your Chicken
hoop97
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ncbears said:

Why the big jump in expense for 2016 hoops?
Best year - and the team operated at a loss?


I'm wondering the same thing.
I really wish they could find a way to lower capacity by about 2k. It would be better suited to spread out the bench seating and convert the seats immediately behind the basket to an aisle walkway.

From a logistical standpoint this would be the best time as there are fewer season ticket holders to impact. Naturally there is a cost associated but need the venue needs some attention.
Big C
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hoop97 said:

ncbears said:

Why the big jump in expense for 2016 hoops?
Best year - and the team operated at a loss?


I'm wondering the same thing.
I really wish they could find a way to lower capacity by about 2k. It would be better suited to spread out the bench seating and convert the seats immediately behind the basket to an aisle walkway.

From a logistical standpoint this would be the best time as there are fewer season ticket holders to impact. Naturally there is a cost associated but need the venue needs some attention.

Why would Cal want to "convert the seats immediately behind the basket to an aisle walkway"?

I would prefer they do something in the opposite direction, namely getting rid of the silly court-side seats on the east side, along with that aisle walkway, and bring the students right down to the court like they did in good ol' Harmon Gym!

Okay, granted, if we're still dealing with this damn coronavirus in eight months, we'll be lucky if we can even go to games... and that's if they keep the even-numbered seats in every section open for "distancing".
HoopDreams
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Big C said:

hoop97 said:

ncbears said:

Why the big jump in expense for 2016 hoops?
Best year - and the team operated at a loss?


I'm wondering the same thing.
I really wish they could find a way to lower capacity by about 2k. It would be better suited to spread out the bench seating and convert the seats immediately behind the basket to an aisle walkway.

From a logistical standpoint this would be the best time as there are fewer season ticket holders to impact. Naturally there is a cost associated but need the venue needs some attention.

Why would Cal want to "convert the seats immediately behind the basket to an aisle walkway"?

I would prefer they do something in the opposite direction, namely getting rid of the silly court-side seats on the east side, along with that aisle walkway, and bring the students right down to the court like they did in good ol' Harmon Gym!

Okay, granted, if we're still dealing with this damn coronavirus in eight months, we'll be lucky if we can even go to games... and that's if they keep the even-numbered seats in every section open for "distancing".
Yeah, seats directly behind baskets are no problem. No need for walk way there


They need to close at least one of the doors in the sideline student section so the students have an uninterrupted student bench again. Why does there need to be two doors to the small lounge that so few people use? That was one of the worst decisions they made inside Haas
dimitrig
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Can we tear down Haas and rebuild Harmon?

Harmon needed to be renovated, but I am not really sure Haas was the solution.

We added 6000 more seats we can't sell.

I have a lot of friends with a theater background and they would rather stage a performance in a packed small venue than in a larger venue with lots of open seating.

In my mind a lot of the pressure to build Haas came during the Jason Kidd era and shortly after when seats were in high demand. Yes, it had been desired for a long time but that is the impetus that caused it to be built.

However, that is not Cal's typical demand and never was.

Duke's Cameron Indoor stadium seats 9,291. Why in God's name does Cal's arena seat 11,858?










hoop97
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Agreed that they completely over-estimated demand and made faulty assumptions due to selling out the Oakland Coliseum for Jason Kidd.

Regarding middle seats immediately behind the basket - it's not a huge item, but the views are greatly obstructed and even in good years I feel like many of them sit empty. But far bigger issue is the bench seating is too cramped and no reason to go as high as they do.
socaltownie
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hoop97 said:

Agreed that they completely over-estimated demand and made faulty assumptions due to selling out the Oakland Coliseum for Jason Kidd.

Regarding middle seats immediately behind the basket - it's not a huge item, but the views are greatly obstructed and even in good years I feel like many of them sit empty. But far bigger issue is the bench seating is too cramped and no reason to go as high as they do.
Musing - do you think the relocation of the Warriors will/could have an impact if Fox turns things around. Have to imagine that there are some BB fans that live, for example, over the hill for whom the prospects of a slog across the Bay Bridge has to be a nightmare.
Take care of your Chicken
BeachedBear
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socaltownie said:

hoop97 said:

Agreed that they completely over-estimated demand and made faulty assumptions due to selling out the Oakland Coliseum for Jason Kidd.

Regarding middle seats immediately behind the basket - it's not a huge item, but the views are greatly obstructed and even in good years I feel like many of them sit empty. But far bigger issue is the bench seating is too cramped and no reason to go as high as they do.
Musing - do you think the relocation of the Warriors will/could have an impact if Fox turns things around. Have to imagine that there are some BB fans that live, for example, over the hill for whom the prospects of a slog across the Bay Bridge has to be a nightmare.
I think there may be a bit of that, but there are two loves that drive Cal Bbball attendance: Love of Cal and love of Bball. I imagine the W's attracted some of that Bball Love, but the connection between Cal and BBall has been breaking for quite a while (about two seasons after they built HAAS). My personal view on the attendance decline includes (in order of impact):

  • Game logistics - getting to the game and home with some challenging tip off times and less regular scheduling is not helping the fact that traffic patterns, parking and even food options have all become significantly worse during the same period of decline. Also every game is televised.
  • Poor game experience (bball related) - winning is better than losing, but playing lazy, disorganized hoop hasn't helped the situation on bit. This has probably been the biggest issue with declining season ticket sales.
  • Poor game experience (non bball related) - The cost has gone up and up and the experience has gone down and down. This one is sooooo, easy and just gets miffed and miffed, year after year. It tells the fans that they are not important and all they want is your money. Jacking up prices when in demand makes sense on a supply and demand level, but when there is NO demand - sheesh?
  • General decline in College BBall attendance - I think this affects Cal just as much as anyone. It seems to be hitting areas that are not bball towns more than others. Again, this probably correlates strongly with all bball games being televised.

There are two obvious cures. First - win more games and play competent hoops. That will drive people to confront and overcome the obstacles. Otherwise, why bother? Second - focus on improving the game atmosphere. Cal has really done very little over the last 10 years in this matter. Some in the right direction - much more in the wrong direction. It seemed for awhile that they were trying to compete with the W's arena experience - which was simply futile.
ManBearLion123
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While start times, etc. are factors in attendance, the biggest factor by far is simply the product on the court.

Cal was consistently in the top half of the conference when we had a good product on the court. It's no surprise that attendance has been awful the past few years.

As long as Fox gets us to near Monty level (bubble team every year), we'll see an average of 8k+ once again.
Chapman_is_Gone
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I find it hard to believe no-one has specifically mentioned the #1 problem.

The day the Cal athletic department -- led by that moron Mike Williams -- hired the UNQUALIFIED Wyking Jones, they sent a signal to the entire basketball community and the Cal fan base that they didn't care about being competitive with our peers.

Done. End of story.

I am a die hard, so I am still here. But, in my Cal 1994/95 cohort, I know few people who still care about the basketball program. People I know were very surprised and disappointed by the WJ hiring. Several of my San Diego Cal friends follow SDSU more closely now, and I can't say I blame them.

Oh, yeah, and whatever the f*** "Learfield" is, fire them, for they do nothing but contribute to a sterile environment for basketball and football.

There have been plenty of threads about what is wrong with Haas, so there's no point in re-hashing. The people in charge of the gameday experience don't have the interest or skill to return Haas to more of a Harmon experience. IMO, they would never consider doing things that obviously need doing. To name four of them off the top of my head: get rid of most of the high-donor courtside seats, return the students to being truly "on the court," fix the poor television camera heights, and return the retired jerseys and championship banners to the rafters. Sigh.
UrsaMajor
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Two comments:

As for re-configuring Haas so that students are back "on the court" as with Harmon, it can't be done. The Pac-12 ordered all new or remodeled facilities to NOT have students right on the court for "safety" reasons.

As for Chapman's comments, there is no doubt that Mike Williams f-ed up a lot of things, including the BB program; however, attendance was declining even before then.
Big C
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UrsaMajor said:

Two comments:

As for re-configuring Haas so that students are back "on the court" as with Harmon, it can't be done. The Pac-12 ordered all new or remodeled facilities to NOT have students right on the court for "safety" reasons.

As for Chapman's comments, there is no doubt that Mike Williams f-ed up a lot of things, including the BB program; however, attendance was declining even before then.

I agree with everything Chapman wrote. The thing about dredging up Wyking Jones is, it's like beating a dead horse. He seems like a decent guy: I'd rather not pile on now that he's gone. But, yes.

As far as not being able to reconfigure Haas to be like Harmon, yeah, surely it can't be done; that was wishful thinking. But let's hold the line on keeping it as close as possible.

As to why we went with greater capacity when we went Harmon-to-Haas:
a) I seem to remember talk of it enabling us to host other events, both basketball and non-basketball.
b) In the words of Dr. Fauci, it was "aspirational", i.e. let's set ourselves up to be able to fulfill a better-case scenario.
Chapman_is_Gone
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UrsaMajor said:

As for Chapman's comments, there is no doubt that Mike Williams f-ed up a lot of things, including the BB program; however, attendance was declining even before then.

#1) Rules can be changed, and if they hurt the gameday experience, they should be changed. Get the 12 people together in a room and come up with a reasonable compromise.

#2) That's fine, but hiring Jones surely exacerbated the attendance decline. There is no question that is true in my mind, from my own personal anecdotal evidence.
Bobodeluxe
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"There is no question that is true in my mind, from my own personal anecdotal evidence."

Thank you, Dr. Mr. President.

12,000 was the seat target for hosting Early NCAA tournament rounds. Oops, forgot about access accommodation. Parking? We has BART. Only an hour from your hotel room in SF.
RedlessWardrobe
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hoop97 said:

ncbears said:

Why the big jump in expense for 2016 hoops?
Best year - and the team operated at a loss?


I'm wondering the same thing.
I really wish they could find a way to lower capacity by about 2k. It would be better suited to spread out the bench seating and convert the seats immediately behind the basket to an aisle walkway.

From a logistical standpoint this would be the best time as there are fewer season ticket holders to impact. Naturally there is a cost associated but need the venue needs some attention.
Trying to be light on my take of this. Don't you folks find it ironic that after the big nineties project to expand attendance capacity that now we're talking about LOWERING capacity? I agree that if there were some modifications to make Haas more fan friendly, a slight decrease in capacity would make sense. But 2000 seats less? After all the athletic department went through to convert Harmon to Haas, this to me would be a very bad move.

For a better solution, let's just recruit a guy like Jason Kidd every 2 years! How does that sound?
oskidunker
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The problem is that in order to get a comfortable seat in either football or basketball you have to pay a fortune.many people need a seat with a back and they cant pay thousands to get one so they don't come.
HoopDreams
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oskidunker said:

The problem is that in order to get a comfortable seat in either football or basketball you have to pay a fortune.many people need a seat with a back and they cant pay thousands to get one so they don't come.
for football you can rent a portable seat back. they will even set it up for you pre-game.
also, the new seating with the table in front were the most comfortable seats I've been in. Even better than the expensive ones because they are suspended cloth, a table in front of you, and more space. These seats are much cheaper than the seatbacks.

I don't know if Haas has a similar deal, but you could ask or bring your own.

oskidunker
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They have banned seat backs in Haas. This needs to change. I saw one really old guy being yelled at and having his seat back pulled from his hands.. Come on Cal.
HoopDreams
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oskidunker said:

They have banned seat backs in Haas. This needs to change. I saw one really old guy being yelled at and having his seat back pulled from his hands.. Come on Cal.
I guess that's why I don't remember seeing them in haas

what could the issue be?

Simple solution is what they do in football games. have them available to rent, and if you do someone will set them up for you in advance
oskidunker
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Duh
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