Michigan Basketball Attendance

Submitted by Cmknepfl on December 3rd, 2018 at 12:10 PM

I frequently hear UM MBB ridiculed for having low attendance.  Trolls ask why fans wont support the program that is actually winning?  I live on the west side of the state so weeknight games and weather during basketball season are all valid concerns.  All that being said I was at Purdue game Saturday and there were lots of empty seats the upper sections at the ends of the arena were virtually empty and there were lots of empty seats everywhere in the lower bowl.  So we could ask why this is, but I think its more complicated than that.  

When I search for tickets on the secondary market there are very few tickets available in the lower bowl.  The tickets that are available are very expensive.  And not just I am cheap and think its too expensive, as in even the site of choice rates them as not a good deal.  So is this a matter of season ticket holders who just don't go to games and also don't sell their tickets?  If so there's nothing the rest of the fan base can do about that.....


I can see not making it to your seats on a Tuesday, or it not being worth the trouble to sell them, but if you aren't going to a Saturday BIG opener why aren't you selling or giving those away?


Am I missing something?



December 3rd, 2018 at 12:16 PM ^

People are greedy and people have lives so weeknight games are tough to make. So many empty seats that people won’t give away. Football games actually the same, just fewer in number. I have a family member who has season tickets and goes to 1 or less games per year and sells their tickets at face value or higher on stubhub. 99% of the time if they are not bought.... they go empty because they don’t want to give them away. Obviously their right... just seems petty. 


December 3rd, 2018 at 1:33 PM ^

If it was about greed, wouldn't they actually lower the price to market and make some money instead of allowing them to go unsold.

If this is actually happening as you say - 99% of these season tickets going unsold (!) - than it's some combo of laziness (put them up at face and not actively lowering the price until they sell), ignorance (of the market and concept of sunk costs) or pettiness (not wanting someone else to go for lower than face just because they have to pay face?).


December 3rd, 2018 at 1:44 PM ^

Yeah you would think. For my specific family example, yes. My family member has said, “I’m not giving them away, if people won’t pay face value, they’ll sit empty” it’s quite ridiculous in my opinion. So, yes, you’re last example is exactly what’s happening. I think my example is probably not the norm, but it still makes me mad. 


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:48 PM ^

Only trolls in so much as people are willing to support this team, but as outlined above if a season ticket holder doesn't sell not much the rest of the fan base can do about it.  

But yes strictly from the standpoint of how many people show up, that's accurate.  


December 3rd, 2018 at 2:07 PM ^

Not sure you get the concept of what a 'troll' is...  FWIW, a definition:

"In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion."

People asking why Crisler isn't full are not necessarily trolls.  I'd say they (sometimes, often) have a valid question.


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:27 PM ^

I would venture to guess it's because our large fanbase is still largely a 'football' fanbase. A lot of us probably watch on TV and get excited for the post season, but there isn't a solid devoted following that has been going to games religiously for generations like for Michigan football or for basketball schools


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:38 PM ^

Donate them!

St. Louis Home for Boys

Ann Arbor's IHN at Alpha House (family shelter)

There are so many options. I've worked at the two above years ago and both would have loved crappy tickets for any game. If you are sitting on digital tickets especially, it's sad to just waste them. There are many that would love the opportunity.

The Fugitive

December 3rd, 2018 at 12:35 PM ^

I know that I can get lunch or dinner in AA if I make the trip from Grand Rapids for a basketball game but what keeps me making the trip less often is because of the winter driving, 2 hour game time, and no tailgating. I spend as much time in the car as I do in the arena. Football is typically a day long activity. I can really only make weekend games work with my schedule. 


December 3rd, 2018 at 2:04 PM ^

This is a good point.  Football is an event . . . tailgating, walking around campus, step show, long game, dinner in town after, bars.

Basketball is just the 2 hour game and maybe a bite after that.  It's hard to justify the drive - or flight - from afar.

Since I left A2, I've flown in for football games, but I never did that for a basketball game.

My wife is a Dukie, so I've been to Duke games at Cameron.  They do a good job of making a game an event.

That is something I would like to see Michigan do more of.


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:35 PM ^

Agreed. I'm visiting home for our family Christmas the weekend of Dec 15th. UM MBB plays WMU and I'm sure the game will be mostly empty. I was going to get tickets for my two sons and me. Looking online, there are almost zero available tickets in the lower bowl, and the couple available are actually expensive. Upper bowl anywhere on the sidelines are mostly around $30+ which is not expensive, but considering the stadium is mostly empty, it's confusing. I live in DC, and I can get $10 tickets to most Georgetown games if I want.


should I buy tickets outside the stadium? I'm thinking there is so little demand that few would even try to sell tickets on site.


December 3rd, 2018 at 2:03 PM ^

Good luck moving down


Unless you are just saying to move down and still sit in the upper bowl. The ushers have always kept upper bowl ticket holders out of the lower bowl for the entire game

In my experience, maybe some others have had better experience.

Always confused me why they were so adamantly against this.


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:38 PM ^

The Purdue game was a sellout. Sometimes pockets of corporate tickets don't wind up going to clients for whatever reason. Too much work, not enough interest, etc. There's nothing you can really do about that mid-season.


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

My impression is that one shouldn't pay too much attention to hoops attendance prior to the turn of the calendar.

Most folk are still in "football season mode" and many folk are also busier than normal with all sorts of Holiday stuff (shopping, parties, kid things at school, et cetera).

I think college hoops attendance is naturally down now vs. later in the year.  Simple seasonality.

BTB grad

December 3rd, 2018 at 12:46 PM ^

When it's still around football season, it's a football school. Full stop. I hate it because I've loved the basketball team and had a lot of fun following them in in Beilein era and think they deserve the attention the football team receives. But if you've gone to Indiana or Duke on the day of a basketball game, the atmosphere just doesn't even compare. This early on in the season and even in the midst of conference play, you'd have no clue if there was a big basketball game if you were just wondering around AA or the campus whereas it is very apparent in Bloomington or Durham. 


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:47 PM ^

I’m sorry but tickets are just too damn expensive for week night games. When you pay for parking, a ticket, the gas to get there (I live about 80 miles away), it’s well over 150 dollars for 2 hours of entertainment. I get it the basketball team is great this year, and I was there last Saturday, but I’m not going to drop 150 dollars on a week night to go to the game. Plus I think Michigan’s tough winter weather and being a traditional football school just lowers interest from a majority of fans.

The Mad Hatter

December 3rd, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

I live and work much closer (30-45 mins depending on traffic) and the tickets are too expensive for me to justify the expense, especially on a week night.  I'd take my family much more often if I could get 4 tickets and some snacks for under $100.  The football team does a similar promotion during the OOC schedule (for over $200 I think) and I assume it sells well.

If seats are empty it's because they're too expensive.  I'm not buying that it's season ticket holders keeping 1/2 of Crisler empty.


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:47 PM ^

This is a question that's been asked every year since I started as a Freshman back in 78.  What's interesting is if you look at how we rank nationally every year (and I did this research once, dont care to undertake it again right now) you'll see we are brutally consistent, year in and year out, regardless of our record & ranking.   I mean even the Fab Five years weren't a sea of sell-out crowds and if those dudes cant pull in a audience - nobody can.

Fanbase is supportive but not ga-ga over basketball.   Never has been.....never will be IMO.


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:57 PM ^

Sure, but part of it is just the nature of the sport too.  Our attendance doesn't differ that much from most other schools, aside from the schools at the very top like Kentucky and Syracuse.  We ranked 33rd in attendance last year, and our attendance was hardly different from anyone outside the top 20.  Like others have said, most of the top 10 are the real "basketball schools" like Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville, Creighton (somewhat surprisingly) and Indiana.  

And we're ahead of schools like Florida, Texas, Notre Dame, etc who are also football-first schools but often have good basketball teams.  


Yinka Double Dare

December 3rd, 2018 at 1:06 PM ^

Omaha's about a million people in the metro area for a town with a AAA baseball team and not much else pro-wise. And the most popular team in the state is a college football team. UNO is a top 10 attendance program for college hockey, Creighton's been very good in recent years, so not all THAT surprising that their attendance is good. People love them some college sports in Nebraska


December 3rd, 2018 at 2:26 PM ^

True, but they also have $4 tickets on sale online right now for their upcoming game - that's the real question for me. Why is UM second hand tickets so expensive? Must be that most people who own these tickets can't be bothered to sell - too much work for too little reward. Unfortunate though. I think it should be seen as a service to the UM community and the MBB program to get the tickets into the hands of people who want to attend. Give the to local school BB teams. Give them to charities, etc. A shame that the stadium isn't filled when there IS a desire to see this team, but not realistic for a majority of the local common folk. 


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:50 PM ^

I have brought this up numerous times, and there doesn't seem to be a real answer: the secondary market does not function nearly as well for basketball as it does for football.

For football, you can get all sorts of seats--from 50 yard line to top of the end zone--for reasonable prices (i.e., under face, often quite a bit) for the SMU's of the world. Hundreds upon hundreds. For better games, there are even more, though of course the prices are higher.

For basketball,  I just looked this morning on StubHub for the Dec 30 game against Binghamton - the only cheap tix ($10 less, before fees) are in the absolute nosebleeds. On the floor, there are less than 100 tix available, typically for $75 to $150. That's ridiculous,  considering those seats will be 1/2 filled, at best.

I know Crisler is 1/10 the size as the Big House, but we don't get close to 1/10 the number of tix on the secondary market, esp in terms of variety (e.g., an inordinate # are top few rows).

UM athletics need to figure out how to incentivize season tix holders to get SOMEONE to use those seats, esp for B1G games. Something like give people credits towards next year's package if, say, 90% of games purchased are actually attended.

They also need to get much more aggressive in their pricing for tix for these bodybag games; the cheapest you can get for Binghamton is $15 (before fees, parking) for bad seats. You can say, "$20-30 per person is cheap! It's worth it!" The scads of empty seats demonstrate the market is telling them something different. But they don't seem to care.


December 3rd, 2018 at 1:10 PM ^

I agree with this - there needs to be some kind of incentive to get tickets used.  If I'm a season ticket holder, I'm going to go through the work needed to sell a couple tickets for $15 each, it's probably just not worth my time.  I think many season ticket holder accept that they'll eat a certain chunk of the tickets every year.  But you're right - if there is some sort of incentive in place, more ticket holders will deal with the work to sell them or at least find someone to give them away to.  

You'd think the AD would like this incentive, since even giving away a ticket it good for the department since those people will almost certainly be spending money at the game.  


December 3rd, 2018 at 1:26 PM ^

UM athletics just doesn't seem to care about actual butts in seats -- creating a home atmosphere (more fans = more cheering), selling hot dogs & popcorn, or how it looks on TV. Not to mention if people attend games (esp kids), they are more likely to become longer-term fans.

There are ready, technological solutions to largely address this issue (e.g., all tix are already scanned; database tech is cheap; online marketplaces for tix already exist & can be partnered with), not to mention ready markets like every school / AAU team within 30 miles should be contacted for massively discounted group tickets for these games.

But my guess is UM athletics is a) lazy (the dept is awash in money largely due to TV -- do they really need the extra couple million that enabling this will generate? Nope.) and b) risk-averse (e.g., a good portion of the tix for 5 or so of the games are probably only really worth $5 - $10; they would rather there be thousands of empty seats than sell those seats at a level that brings back shades of "Buy two cokes, get one ticket").

They do this stuff sporadically (e.g., I attended last year's opener for $5 as part of a group) but they not to be more consistent and more aggressive, marketing wise.

True Blue Grit

December 3rd, 2018 at 2:42 PM ^

Your first paragraph is spot on, and it's baffling why they don't try to do something about it.  There are a lot of season ticket holders sitting down in the blue who apparently have so much money that not showing up for half or a third of the games means nothing to them.  A certain % are likely old people who either don't use the internet or don't want to.  The AD should at least try to reach out to them.  For openers, actively reach out to all blue seat season ticket holders and ask them to sell the games they aren't going to.  Hell, offer to pay half the StubHub fee or something like that.  At least make them understand there are people out there who really want to go to the game and would be willing to pay them for their tickets.  Everyone wins then.



December 3rd, 2018 at 2:29 PM ^


AD Ward should put a system into place ASAP that allows ticket holders to donate unused tix back to the school. Very easy and quick. UM could set up a quick system to get these tix into the hands of local schools and non-profits. Make it EASY for people who can't be bothered to sell their unused tix to still get the tix into the hands of people who would love to see a game!


1989 UM GRAD

December 3rd, 2018 at 4:22 PM ^

I'm going to chime in as a long-time lower bowl season ticket holder.  And as one who also has season tickets to football...and who really believes that the only valid reason for missing a home football game is my own death.

It's very difficult to get to some of the midweek games.  I was at UNC, but a body bag 9:30PM start is not very appealing.  The occasional 6/6:30PM games are also a challenge;  with rush hour traffic, it can extend the drive from about 45 minutes to well over an hour.  Not to mention that the drive can get to 1.5 hours if it's snowy or excessively cold.

As for ensuring the seats are used if I'm not going to the game?  Many times, not going is a last-minute decision.  This virtually guarantees that the tickets will go unused.  If I make the decision earlier, I'll typically text some friends to see if they want to go.  Typically, my offer goes unaccepted...as people don't want to make the drive, have something else going on, etc.

And I hope this doesn't make me sound like a jerk, but listing the tickets on StubHub for $15-20 just isn't worth the bother.

There's no doubt that it's a challenge to attendance that much of the basketball fan base comes from Metro Detroit.  I love that the games are quick, but then you have to balance that with the time it takes to drive, the start time of the game, weather issues, etc.


December 3rd, 2018 at 12:51 PM ^

The empty lower bowl seats are embarrassing and have been for years. I was really glad to see it was filled during the UNC game and mostly filled for Purdue. 

Right now on Stubhub: The cheapest pair of lower bowl tickets for the Western Michigan game (12/15, 2pm) are $47.13 each with fees (row 14 directly behind the basket). For the next Big Ten game vs Penn State (1/3 at 7pm): $75.66 each.

Face Value (though no tickets are available on mgoblue) in the lower bowl for the WMU game are $25 and $40 for Penn St. Lower bowl resale prices are consistently waaaaay above face value. It seems as though many would rather stay home than sell at face value or close to it. 

I live in Ann Arbor and go to typically 5-7 home bball games a year and always in the upper deck because (for me) it's not worth paying $50 to see WMU when I could sit at the 3 point line in the upper deck row 35 for $15 vs $50. 


December 3rd, 2018 at 1:02 PM ^

What, you don't think it is worth spending $800 (if you include fees) for 4 tix in Sec 106 for the game against Binghamton?

Who lists these tix at these ridiculous prices? If people were actually able to get anywhere near that price, there would be more listed, but there are not (e.g., these are the only tix listed in Sec 106). And it's not like everyone else in Sec 106 is not listing them b/c they'll be using them; that section (like the entire bowl) will have dozens upon dozens of empty seats on Dec 30.

UM athletics had greatly expanded its admin staff over the past few years; a couple people need to work full-time on fixing this issue with the secondary market, in order get more butts in the seats, for basketball.

Doubt it will happen though -- it's been a problem for decades and I guess if UM already has it's money from the first sale, they don't care if it looks like an open practice in terms of attendance.