Fans from CSU (left) and CU (right) cheer on their teams at the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
The state bucked a national trend of declining college football bowl subdivision game attendance last fall, and with less than 40 days left until the 2017 season begins, the University of Colorado and Colorado State are riding waves of increased season-ticket sales.
As of Friday afternoon, CU totaled 19,353 season tickets sold (a rise of 1,342 from 2016) and CSU stood above 17,000 (an uptick of more than 3,000). The collective jump continues a trend of increased football fan attendance at both programs.
According to an NCAA report, CU and CSU both ranked inside the top 25 nationally in 2016 for largest gains in average home attendance — CU at No. 7 (plus 7,220) and CSU at No. 25 (plus 2,683). Meanwhile, according to a CBS Sports analysis, the average FBS crowd declined nationally for a sixth consecutive season and was again the lowest average since 2000.
Last fall, CU drew 46,609 per home game. CSU brought in 27,600. If 2017 season-ticket sales at both schools are any indication, those figures are projected to rise once again, thanks to several factors.
The Buffaloes won 10 games for the first time since 2001, and the program that hadn’t sold out a game dating back eight seasons finally packed the house to witness CU win the 2016 Pac-12 South championship. Today, Folsom Field has sold out two of its club sections in the south end zone for the first time ever and renewed 98 percent of its 2016 season-ticket holders.
“The fan excitement and that energy when the team is coming off a winning year after 10 years of not winning has just been tremendous,” said Matt Biggers, CU’s associate athletic director of external affairs and chief marketing officer. “People are really excited to get on board.”
CSU’s nearly completed on-campus stadium has sold out of season tickets for its luxury suites, loge boxes, and priority west stands seating. Add-ons for the New Belgium Porch in the north end zone and the Orthopedic & Spine Center of the Rockies field club behind the home bench are also sold out.
The Rams, fresh off consecutive 7-6 seasons, broke what’s believed to be their program season-ticket sales record (12,000 in 1998).
“We went through a process in the spring and transitioned everyone that was a season-ticket holder in (2016) into the stadium through a seat-selection process that was very, very successful,” CSU athletic director Joe Parker said Tuesday. “We continued our sales of new season tickets, and as we stand today, we’re at more than 14,000 season tickets.”
Late July marks the final push for ticket offices across the nation to fill season-ticket orders. At its peak, Folsom Field averaged 52,098 fans per home game in 1996. The most fans Hughes Stadium averaged was 31,224 back in 1994, an easily broken record with just one sellout at the new Sonny Lubick Field.
There’s only one constant should both schools aim for a return to 90s-esque crowds.
“You don’t want to be at a place where there is minimal pressure or minimal expectations,” CSU coach Mike Bobo said. “It’s a big responsibility moving into this stadium and this facility. We talk about it all the time, that we’ve got to earn the right to come out here and play and represent Colorado State.”