Gator game attendance surged in 2019

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Fans wave their cell phones during Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" at the beginning of the fourth quarter of Florida’s Nov. 30 game against Florida State at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium before a crowd of 89,409. [Doug Engle/Staff photographer]
Multiple times last fall, Florida football coach Dan Mullen called out Gator Nation, challenging the fans to show up and show out at The Swamp to give the Gators a great home-field advantage.
His calls were answered.
They showed up — giving UF its first increase in home attendance since 2015.
They showed out — creating a loud and electric atmosphere that helped the Gators go 6-0 at home, including a defining victory over then-No. 7 Auburn that propelled UF into the Top 10.
The Auburn game was a sellout, with 90,584 filling The Swamp to capacity. That crowd helped play a role in the school experiencing an increase in home attendance for the first season in three years.
The Gators averaged 84,684 fans per game, an increase of 3% from 2018, when the average attendance was 82,328. Florida Field was at 95.6% capacity for the 2019 season.
UF was the only Power Five school in the state to have an increase in home attendance this season. Attendance at Florida State and Miami declined, the Seminoles significantly.
FSU averaged just 54,019 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium, down 20% from the 2018 average of 68,288.
Miami saw its first decline in home attendance since the 2015 season, averaging 52,829 after averaging 61,469 in 2018.
Florida and Florida Atlantic were the only schools in the state to show an increase in attendance.
UCF, South Florida and FIU all experienced a drop. The Knights went from 44,019 to 43,788 and the Bulls went from 38,517 to 31,823, while the Panthers averaged just 13,874, only about 70% of capacity of FIU Stadium.
As for UF’s 3% increase in attendance, winning (along with an attractive home schedule that included Auburn and FSU) probably was the main factor. But, over the past few years, the school has made a concerted effort to enhance the game day experience for its fans, adding amenities like food trucks outside the stadium and improved wireless internet inside.
“We talk a lot about creating and having fun,” UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said before the home opener in September. “That’s really important. We want to have fun and we want to create a lot of fun for our fans, make it more than just coming to see the Gators play. Watching the team is kind of the tent pole of gameday. We want all the other stuff around it make it more than a game and to make it be a really fun event that gives people the desire to come to campus as often as they can.
“You try to make it where there is something for everyone. We have a diverse fan base, people from a lot of different places, a lot of different backgrounds. We want to create something that everybody can enjoy and understand they’re all kind of connected through the love of the Gators.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. As for UF’s 3% increase in attendance, winning probably was the main factor. Duh!

    More room side to side will be welcome but what I really want is a bit more legroom. Not gonna get that in the bleachers. Also, flex chair-backs should be banned. This rather large woman was sitting in front of me for the Auburn game and I kid you not there was like 3″ of legroom for me, mostly because she insisted on leaning back. I ended up standing for most of the game. Was not really a problem for THAT game but had I wanted to sit, well there would have been words exchanged.

    • No question about it. Florida Field was built in an age when Americans were “smaller.” Just look at the specimens that man the line of scrimmage at any Gator game these days. The folks in the stands have gotten proportionally “bigger” too!

      When UF finally gets around to upgrading the stadium, wider chair-back seats are a definite must. Perhaps, a special pen for walruses should be considered as well! 😜

      • Just by way of comparison, the two lettermen centers for the 1960 Florida Gators (8-2, and winners of the 1960 Gator Bowl against Baylor for 9-2), were Bill Hood (211) and Bob Wehking (224). The biggest lineman was LT Floyd Dean at 238. Probably one of the best guards ever to play in the SEC, Vic Miranda, weighed in at 208.

        Huge for a quarterback, Florida’s Bobby Dodd Jr came in at 175, while Don Ringold and Tom Batten were 150. The great Larry Libertore weighed 138 — and that was in full pads and probably weights strapped to his ankles.

        Yup, I’d say players are a tad bigger these days. Incidentally, Florida’s entire line was bigger than Baylor’s that year. I was just a lad at the time, but I recall my Dad explaining that Baylor found it difficult to get their offense going with 7 men always in the backfield…….4 of them Gators. 😜

    • I don’t know about the Semis paying their recruits, but CDM and his staff can certainly make a case to our recruits about the difference between playing in front of 55,000 vs. 85,000 for the average game. To use a Nole analogy, just another arrow in CDM’s quiver!