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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tennessee crowd symptomatic of flagging attendance

Attendance has been down through the first five games of the home schedule for the Golden Grizzlies. Fans are wondering about a ticket increase, most notably after the Tennessee game. As a member of the media, I don’t pay for tickets, as you may have guessed, and I wasn’t aware of a price increase. Coach Greg Kampe wasn’t aware of the increase, either, when asked on “The Greg Kampe Show” Tuesday on WXOU.
“They don’t call me in to talk about ticket pricing,” he said.  
Kampe suggested the increase isn’t necessarily related to the sagging attendance figures.
“We’ve never drawn well in November and December and we’ve never had a home schedule like this,” he said.
Oakland is in the midst of a seven-game homestand that includes Saturday’s game at The Palace, hosting Michigan.
The long-time Oakland coach did admit prices “probably” affected attendance vs. Tennessee, for which more than 3,700 were reported in attendance. Many remarks were made during the game by those in attendance concerning the relative emptiness of the 3,000-seat arena. Several spots in the bleachers were vacant throughout the game.
The reported attendance was just the seventh-largest in the venue’s 13-year history. The O’rena draws more fans for games against conference rival Oral Roberts. Its largest audience, more than 4,000, came to see then-No. 3 Missouri in 2003.
Fans complained about the increased price for last week’s marquee matchup, chief among their concerns was the facts students were being charged for admission. They usually get in for free. Also, some fans were unhappy that tickets were being bundled into three-game packages. And yes, some fans were even mad at me for incorrectly tweeting that tickets had been sold out. (I corrected that tweet less than an hour later after a helpful phone call from the athletic department.) I found one ticket stub on the ground after the game left for “Ben,” seated in row 10, seat 26. The price, though, was blank, so that doesn’t particularly help my comprehension.
Kampe credited the crowd with helping Oakland beat Tennessee for the second consecutive season.
“From start to finish, I thought we were in the Breslin Center,” he said. “I can’t tell you how big of a homecourt advantage that was.”
The Golden Grizzlies traditionally pick up more fans as the season progresses, but Kampe didn’t sound terribly optimistic about the idea of packing fans in for their late-season schedule.
Oakland hosts just two games in February, the last month of the season and neither is a traditional seat-filler. IPFW visits, minus coach Dane Fife, now an MSU assistant, Feb. 11, and Southern Utah enters the O’rena Feb. 15. The Grizzlies’ final three games are on the road.
January, however, is more promising, as perennial Summit contender Oral Roberts visits for possibly the final time Jan. 3. Alex Young and IUPUI arrive Jan. 7 and Nate Wolters brings South Dakota State to Rochester Jan. 26.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

All students were not charged for the game - there were over 400 free tickets given away.

December 8, 2011 at 5:18 PM 

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