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.”