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BYU Football Attendance Increased: Is It Wins, WiFi, Opponents?

Large signs hang outside Lavell Edwards Stadium where it was announced that BYU football will become independent in 2011 separating from the Mountain West Conference, September 1, 2010 in Provo, Utah. The remaining BYU sports will become affiliated with the West Coast Conference in 2011. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Provo, Utah – A lot of people went to BYU football home games this year. The Cougars had an average of 59,547 people attend games at LaVell Edwards Stadium, which was second on the West Coast only behind Washington’s 68,238.

Winning brings more people to the games and BYU went 4-2 at home with wins over USC and a ranked Boise State team.

Plus, they hosted Power 5 teams like Utah and Washington, so the increase is a combination of winning games, playing brand name teams, and not playing too many late kickoffs.

Last season posted the highest attendance since 2013 when the Cougars saw an average of 61,225. BYU was ranked 22nd nationally in attendance and was one of the few teams to increase in year-over-year attendance.

Amenities, Wins, Opponents?

Going to college football games can be a hassle especially when compared with the ease and comfort of watching a game from the comfort of one’s home. Teams and stadiums need to up their own game to get people to the stadium. Being an independent school means the schedule provides variety each year.

Having great in-stadium WiFi also helps, predicted KSL Unrivaled.

The trend in college football has been a decrease over the years which makes BYU’s turnaround more fascinating.

“College football is already fighting against the idea of people coming to games,” KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry said. “They have a hard time getting butts in the seat at BYU and all across college football. People are not going to the games at the clip they used to.”

KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell thinks it may be a generational problem for college football.

“It is a generational thing,” Mitchell said. “It is an attention span. It is like, ‘am I really going to sit in a stadium when I would rather be somewhere else or focused on something else?’

“My experience growing up was going to pretty much every BYU football game as a kid. You would go have your Saturday morning youth football game and you would not go home or shower. You would have some change of clothes or wear your football bottom pants to the game and it was not unheard of. There are so many more things happening for families on these Saturdays.”

Maybe this season was a one-off because the schedule was filled with good teams and some upset wins over USC and Boise State but it will continue to be tough for BYU (and any other school) to keep attendance numbers high, according to Unrivaled.

Would Conference Affiliation Help Attendance?

If BYU were in a conference would that change attendance? Maybe, maybe not. Playing familiar teams each year and adding something to play for like a  conference title could get more people through the gates.

“Let’s face it but the other side of this is that BYU doesn’t play in a conference,” Mitchell said. “That becomes a big deal. If BYU and Utah State are in the same conference it becomes a big deal, because when the games matter people will show up for them. The only thing that matters for these big-time games that BYU has at home is bragging rights.”

The counterpoint to that is BYU wouldn’t have teams like Washington, USC, or Utah at home. In a conference, it would be very difficult to keep those games at home. Those would be either away from LaVell Edwards Stadium or not even on the schedule.

Playing for something means something but also playing multiple Power 5 opponents in a season at home draws fans as well.

The most important way to draw fans is winning, getting brand names is a bonus, and also having that in-stadium WiFi humming along doesn’t hurt.

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

BYU Cougars Schedule - CFB
BYU Cougars Schedule - CBK