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Steve Griffin, Deseret News
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BYU Football Must Provide ‘Magical’ Experience To Bring In Fans

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The attendance at BYU football games has dipped a bit over the years, and KSL’s Unrivaled has a few ideas as to how to turn it around.

Host Alex Kirry remembers the crowd at then-Cougar Stadium being raucous, no matter who the opponent was when he was student at BYU. Whether the Cougars were playing Colorado State, New Mexico or some other school from BYU’s days as a member of the Mountain West Conference, the stadium was the place to be.

BYU recently announced a partnership with Tailgate Guys, a company that specializes with building festive tailgating atmospheres at college stadiums across the country, in an effort to boost the gameday scene around LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Still, Kirry feels it may not take off and that other steps should be taken.

Players Build Stadiums

It’s important to recognize how BYU rose to prominence and was able to fill a 65,000-seat stadium in the first place.

To KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen, who appeared on the show as a guest, the answer was big name stars and high octane offense.

“Why are there 65,000 at LaVell Edwards Stadium? Who built that stadium,” asked Jensen, rhetorically, before answering, “Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Ty Detmer.”

“My point is there used to be big-time quarterbacks and big time players,” continued Jensen. “What built BYU football and what made it popular that 65,000 fans came to a game every Saturday, even when they were playing UTEP and San Diego State and Colorado State…or Tulsa, the 1996 team, you came and watched that team. Why? They had star players, they won games.”

Nowadays, the identity of the program has shifted dramatically. While there are some impactful players on the roster, there aren’t nearly the kind of marquee players that bring in the crowd like McMahon and Young did.

Disney-Provo?

Not to mention, the way that fans consume their football entertainment has also had a big change in the streaming era.

There may not be an easy answer for how the Cougars can bring in more fans, it’s a big problem for college football teams all across the nation, especially in the western United States.

To co-host Scott Mitchell, the solution may be for fans to employ the same strategy that brings generations upon generations back to Disneyland: starting them young.

“My parents took me to Disneyland when I was a kid, unbelievable experience,” said Mitchell. “When I became a parent, I was like ‘I got to take my kids back to Disneyland.’ So now my kids love Disney and it’s this perpetual thing. I believe that’s what generates that.”

However, the Cougars need to perform for their younger audience if they want to keep them coming back, added Mitchell.

For now, the new efforts on tailgating will have to do as BYU strives to become Disneyland-Provo.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast.