How many people do you think attended the 38 bowl games that were played from Dec. 20 to Jan. 4?
How about 1,663,268? That’s roughly the total number of people that live in the state of Idaho.
On average, it means that 43,770 fans attended each of the 38 contests, but in reality some bowl games were far better attended than others.
Quantifying attendance isn’t as straight forward as saying, “45,000 fans showed up at Bowl A vs. 25,000 for Bowl B, so, Bowl A is better than Bowl B.”
What if Bowl A was played in a venue with 100,000 seats vs. Bowl B, hosted by a stadium that seats 30,000? You can only be held responsible for selling the tickets that you have.
To illustrate, the Bahamas Bowl ranks dead last in total attendance this postseason, only 13,997 were on hand to watch Central Michigan’s final-second heroics vs. Western Kentucky. But, the game was played at Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau, a facility that seats 15,000. This means that 91% of the seats were filled, a capacity rating that ranks No. 9 among this season’s bowl games.
Compare this to the Orange Bowl, which drew a crowd of 58,211, No. 9 among this year’s bowls and 44,214 more than the Bahamas. This looks pretty good until you throw in that Sun Life Stadium has 76,500 seats, 18,289 which sat empty for the Yellow Jacket’s big win over the Bulldogs. The bottom line is a fill rate of 76%, the 15th worst mark of the bowl campaign.
Take a look at the top ten/bottom ten bowls in total attendance and then look again as we reshuffle the deck by fill rate.
Its tickets sold vs. empty seats. At the end of the day, the winners were games that hosted a local team, a big-time matchup, a playoff game or had a reasonable number of seats to work with.
10. Taxslayer (Jacksonville, Fla.), Iowa-Tennessee: 56,310
9. Orange (Miami Gardens, Fla.), Mississippi State-Georgia Tech: 58,211
8. Music City (Nashville, Tenn.), Notre Dame-LSU: 60,149
7. Alamo (San Antonio, Texas), Kansas State-UCLA: 60,517
6. Peach (Atlanta, Ga.), Ole Miss-TCU: 65,706
5. Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.), Boise State-Arizona: 66,896
4. Texas (Houston, Texas), Texas-Arkansas: 71,115
3. Cotton (Arlington, Texas), Michigan State-Baylor: 71,465
2. Sugar (New Orleans, La.), Alabama-Ohio State: 74,682
1. Rose (Pasadena, Calif.), Oregon-Florida State: 91,322
10. Birmingham (Birmingham, Ala.), East Carolina-Florida: 30,083
9. Boca Raton (Boca Raton, Fla.), Marshall-Northern Illinois: 29,419
8. New Mexico (Albuquerque, N.M.), Utah State-UTEP: 28,725
7. St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg, Fla.), N.C. State-UCF: 26,675
6. Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii), Rice-Fresno State: 25,365
5. Quick Lane (Detroit, Mich.), Rutgers-North Carolina: 23,876
4. Miami Beach (Miami, Fla.), Memphis-BYU: 20,761
3. Camellia (Montgomery, Ala.), Bowling Green-South Alabama: 20,256
2. Potato (Boise, Idaho), Air Force-Western Michigan: 18,223
1. Bahamas (Nassau, Bahamas), Western Kentucky-Central Michigan: 13,667
By Fill Rate
11. GoDaddy (Ladd Peebles, Mobile, Ala.), Toledo-Arkansas State: 90.56%
10. Bahamas (Thomas Robinson, Nassau, Bahamas), WKU-CMU: 91.11%
9. Peach (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.), Ole Miss-TCU: 92.25%
8. Sun (Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas), Arizona State-Duke: 92.83%
7. Boca Raton (FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.), Marshall-Northern Illinois: 98.06%
6. Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York), Boston College-Penn State: 98.93%
See note below.
5. Texas (NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas), Texas-Arkansas: 99.46%
4. Rose (Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.), Oregon-Florida State: 100.2%
3. Military (Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, Annapolis, Md.), Cincinnati-Virginia Tech: 100.8%
2. Fiesta (U. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.), Boise State-Arizona: 105.51%
1. Sugar (Superdome, New Orleans, La.), Alabama-Ohio State: 107.14%
10. Belk (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.), Georgia-Louisville: 61.9%
9. Miami Beach (Marlins Park, Miami, Fla.), Memphis-BYU: 56.5%
8. Heart of Dallas (Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas), Illinois-Louisiana Tech: 54.29%
7. Hawaii (Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii), Rice-Fresno State: 50.73%
6. Foster Farms (Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.), Maryland-Stanford: 50.42%
5. Potato (Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho), Air Force-Western Michigan: 49.25%
4. New Orleans (Superdome, New Orleans, La.), Louisiana-Lafayette-Nevada: 48.8%
3. Poinsettia (Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.), Navy-San Diego State: 46.4%
2. Birmingham (Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.), East Carolina-Florida: 42.05%
1. Quick Lane (Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.), Rutgers-North Carolina: 36.73%
Note: The capacity for football at Yankee Stadium was initially calculated as 54,251, per Wikipedia plus other stadium reference websites. According to the Boston Globe, capacity for the bowl game was 49,542. The Top 10 of the Fill Rate rankings have been adjusted accordingly with the Pinstripe Bowl taking 6th place.