4-1-Zoo: Pitt’s Attendance, Better Than You Think

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — After the Pitt-USF game, myself and many Pitt fans got into some heated and interesting discussion regarding Pitt’s attendance at Heinz Field.

I wrote this piece, stating that the reason for Pitt’s poor attendance figures are quite simple: Pitt has been a underachieving and frustrating football program for the better part of 30 years now. That, alone, is responsible.

The discussion went to Twitter after I wrote the piece (follow me here), and several people pointed out that playing in a major metropolitan area amongst professional sports teams plays a huge role in Pitt’s attendance. Many argued that Pitt isn’t alone, as many other schools in large cities suffer from poor attendance as well.

As discussion went on, it became somewhat clear that playing college football in or near a major city — regardless of an on-campus stadium — effects most programs. And to be honest, Pitt fairs pretty well when compared with schools in similar situations.

Ken Mittereder e-mailed me with a wealth of outstanding information Tuesday afternoon. He cross-referenced cities that have an NFL team and Division-I college football team within 60 miles of each other. When the research was finished, Pitt came in fifth out of 20 schools in attendance from last year’s averages…

Michigan — 111,825 avg. per game
Washington — 66,264 avg. per game
California — 57,873 avg. per game
Arizona — 55,408 avg. per game
Pitt — 52,165 avg. per game

Miami, Minnesota, Rutgers, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Indiana, South Florida, Stanford, Maryland, Boston College, Northwestern, Cincinnati and Vanderbilt fall in order behind that top five from 6-20.

Now, a lot of the discussion on Twitter also surrounded the idea of sellouts and how Pitt can only max out Heinz Field when West Virginia or Notre Dame come to town. That has proven mostly true over the years, but as I argued in my initial piece, Pitt did no better at Pitt Stadium.

By last year’s statistics, Pitt played to 80 percent capacity. Of schools with stadiums that hold 50,000 or more, Pitt ranks third in percent capacity.

Michigan — 102%
Washington — 91%
Pitt — 80%
California — 76%
Arizona — 76%
Miami — 69%

It’s a fact that schools like Penn State, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, etc. have a far greater reach in their fanbase. They represent a larger area and, thus, draw bigger crowds.

One more quick fact for you. Of these 20 schools, seven (Pitt, Miami, Minnesota, Georgia Tech, South Florida, Cincinnati and Vanderbilt) are directly in a city. Pitt leads all seven in average attendance.

By these numbers, it appears Pitt does pretty darn well in its situation.

Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Z0o

  • Omar Yo

    Tuscon doesn’t have an NFL team, and isn’t 60 miles from Phoenix.

    Your might be wanting to replace them with Arizona State, and push Pitt up to #4 on your list. (Az. State – 47k)

  • Leo Vale

    Your rankings are erred and flawed. First, you only list 19 teams, not 20. Second, South Florida should be ommitted because it’s only been a 1-A team for 10 years, which is hardly enough timed to develop a following, particularly when compared to the others on that list. Third, as suggested by Omar Yo, I’ve replaced Arizon with Arizona State. Now, I don;t know where you got your attendance or capacity figured from but one or the other was incorrect if you think Pitt is 5th in 2010 attendance as a percent of stadium capacity among programs in your liist that seat at least 50,000. Pitt (80.2%) is actually 9th out of 14. It is behind Michigan (101.8%), Minnesota (99%), Washington (91.4%), Kansas (89.6%), Rutgers (88.1%), Colorado (87.2%), Georgia Tech (84.5%) and Indiana (80.4%). Perhaps you used the Metrodome for Minnesota instead of TCF Bank Stadium, Met Life Stadium instead of Rutgers Stadium for Rutgers, and the Georgia Dome instead of Bobby Dodd Stadium for Georgia Tech. But I can’t figure out how you made a 4th mistake.

  • Mr Obvious

    Too bad this article isn’t entitled PITT’S TEAM BETTER THAN YOU THINK.!!!!
    They stink

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