Razorback Football home game attendance decreased by 12.3% this season, featuring the lowest attended game since 2001 with only 52,256 attendees.
With the Razorback Football team finishing the 2019 season with a 2-10 record, some attendees were surprised to see a nearly empty student section at most games, including UA alumni Erik Walther, who said he went to all but two home games.
“Even at the beginning of the year when (the Razorback Football team) was not that bad, there were not many students. Even if there were, they would be gone by halftime,” Walther said.
Although football makes up a large portion of the athletic program’s revenue, it is not the only source, said Kevin Trainor, chief public relations officer for Razorback Athletics.
Ticket sales make up 31% of the Razorback Athletics 2019-20 budget.
By having partnerships with SEC apparel providers and Razorback foundation donations, the Razorback Athletics program is among the few programs in the nation to be self-sufficient, Trainor said.
In past seasons, with former head coach Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks went 11-2 all season with a 6-2 record in the SEC in 2011. Average game attendance for the 2011 season was 19.8% higher than during the 2019 season.
Fan attendance over the past ten years reached an all time high during the 2016 season with former head coach Bret Bielema. The Razorbacks ended with a 7-6 season and with 26.7% more attendees than the 2019 season.
Turner Gillmore, a junior, usually left home games early, depending on the score of the game, he said. The only thing keeping Gillmore in the stands was a discount on concession stand items given to attendees that was announced on the jumbotron by Razorback Athletics, he said.
For Gillmore, the overall lack of consistency in coaching roles and the team’s starting line-ups seems to be what is causing attendees like him to leave games early.
“It is hard to get behind a team and hope that they will be better when it changes every week,” Gillmore said.
Walther thinks Hunter Yurachek, vice chancellor and director of the Razorback Athletics, has proved that he is trying to improve the program by hiring Eric Musselman as head coach of the basketball team. The best way for fans to show support of the football next season is by giving the new head coach a chance to prove himself, he said.
Trainor thinks ticket sales from other athletic events, such as basketball, gymnastics and baseball, could supplement the money not made from football game ticket sales this season.