I knew the stadium was empty last night while watching the game on ESPN2 HD from the comfort of my own living room but I just didn’t realize how empty it was until Denny O’Brien (@TheDOB on Twitter) tweeted that they announced over the P.A. that 4,117 people were in attendance for the game. I thought I had read his update wrong or maybe he had accidentally left out a digit. Nope.
The lack of excitement starting during the three minutes of pre-game that ESPN2 had for us when they showed the Memphis locker room that seemed like the entire team had popped a couple of Xanex before Tommy West’s ‘thrilling’ speech about playing on national television. It just seemed like Memphis (the city & the team) didn’t care that they were about to be in HD on ESPN2 as the only football game all night.
I find it completely absurd that a D-I football team is not able to attract more than 4,117 people to a stadium that has the capacity to hold 62,380 people. Let me do the math for you. The stadium was only 6.6% full last night and that is for a nationally televised game in high definition. This doesn’t only look bad on the football program but it also looks bad on the University of Memphis (approximately 21,000 enrolled) and the city of Memphis (population: 670,100) as a whole.
This can’t be good for Memphis’ recruitment strategy, athletically or academically. If I was a high school junior or senior and watching the only football game that was on last night, I would be slightly deterred from wanting to go to a school whose football games look about as exciting as my grandmother’s bridge club. Nationally televised games are so key to a school’s recruitment strategy where the school can show its strengths
I guess Pirate Nation could have brought some more fans. I could have been number 4,118 in the seats but pulling a 10 1/2 hour drive, one-way, on a Tuesday doesn’t really match up well with my work schedule. I made that drive this past January and it is one long, hard road that can change the person that you are plus the fact that I-40 has been closed off right near the North Carolina/Tennessee border due to a massive rock slide that happened a few days ago…and flying is just not in my budget these days.
I don’t know what Memphis can do to build their fan base and get them out to the game. There has got to be a way to promote the Tigers to not let this happen again on national television. Free barbecue or an Elvis impersonator? I am sure they get enough of that on a daily basis.