Wednesday, November 5, 2014


If TigerBlog's colleague Andrew Borders is to be believed, then there have been 85 football games played on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

Andrew, the women's soccer, men's basketball, softball, golf and tennis contact here in the Office of Athletic Communications, also likes to research some information across all sports. And so it was that he emailed to TigerBlog a list of every Princeton football game played at Princeton Stadium since it opened in 1998 and the attendance figure for each.

It's the kind of thing Andrew would do. Organizations need people like Andrew, who do their own jobs without having to be watched over at every moment, go above and beyond when necessary and do all this while being completely low maintenance. It's a very, very good combination.

So now that TB was armed with Andrew's research, he tried to figure out what it all meant.

It's an old story. TigerBlog has long wondered how in the world Princeton is supposed to know if it drawing well in football.
The stadium seats 27,800. It's been full exactly once, back for the first game ever played in the stadium, between the Tigers and Cornell.

TigerBlog will be in his 130s when Princeton plays Cornell in football in 2098. He's not high on his chances of attending, and that's a shame, since he wants to see if Princeton will beat Cornell 6-0 again.

Why 6-0? Well, Princeton did so in 1898 and then again in 1998, in that first game. Wouldn't it be cool if the same thing happened again.

TigerBlog still remembers what he wrote about that game - the 1998 one, not the 1898 one. TB wrote: "Fans who came to see the new stadium and a Princeton win went home happy. Those who wanted to see a touchdown will have to wait for the next game."

In fact, the first touchdown would come in the second game, against Brown, on a touchdown pass from James Perry (now Princeton's offensive coordinator) to Sean Morey (now Princeton's sprint football coach).

Actually, TigerBlog has a book called "Athletics at Princeton," which is basically a history of Princeton sports in the 1800s. It said this about the 1898 game: "Princeton defeated Cornell 6-0 in a clean exhibition of football."

Anyway, the attendance for Game 1 was 27,800. Of the 85 games played in the stadium, there have been eight that have drawn at least 20,000.

Of those eight, three were in 1998, two were in 1999, two were in 2000 and one was in 2001. That suggests that there was interest in seeing the new stadium, no?

The numbers are fairly fascinating. As with everything else, though, they raise more questions than they answer.

For instance, there have been 49 crowds of at least 10,000. Of those, only five have come in the last four years. Of course, two of those five have been this year.

Is winning a big factor?

Princeton has won the Ivy League title twice since the stadium opened, in 2006 and 2013. The 2006 team averaged 12,220 fans for five home games. The 2004 Tigers averaged 12,950 fans - and went 5-5 while losing four of its last five.

The 2013 team was as exciting as any Princeton team has ever been. The Tigers went 8-2, 6-1 in the league, and set Ivy records for points and yards in a season. They ran a fast-paced, creative offense with trick plays, big plays, odd plays, every kind of play that would generate fan interest.

A year ago, Princeton averaged 8,508 - nearly four thousand fewer than the 2006 team averaged. The 2008 team, which went 4-6, averaged 9,384.

So what does all this mean? What conclusions can you draw? And what decisions would you make off of this?

Clearly, attendance has dipped through the years. Why is that?

It can't be cost. Princeton football tickets are cheaper than movie tickets. 

Is it television? Too many games on? Too easy to watch Princeton on TV or online?

Then there is this question: Is an average of 8,508 fans for five football games good or bad?

Compared to Rutgers, who draws more than 50,000 fans per game 20 minutes from here? Doesn't seem that good.

On the other hand, what else regular draws that many people to this campus? Reunions. Anything else?

There is one line of thinking that says that stadiums should be full, that attendance numbers in the Ivy League are bad. One poster on the Ivy message board used one word to describe Princeton's attendance at its most recent home game, a game against Harvard that drew 12,164: pathetic.

But is it? Or is this the audience?

TigerBlog does know that the subject of attendance has always brought with it the idea that Princeton is unsuccessful in that area. TB isn't so sure about this. Maybe the factors that have led attendance to fall are beyond the control of the best intentions of Princeton athletics.

Anyway, here is something that TB completely missed.

The total attendance for the 85 games is 1,021,292 which means two things: 1) the average for every game in the stadium has been 12,015 and 2) the stadium drew its one millionth fan during the Davidson game.

The next home game is Saturday against Penn. The weather looks good. It's two old rivals. Yes, Penn is having a down year, but the Quakers always turn out here.

Say 10,000 are here.

Is that a good crowd?

All this time, a million people, 85 games - and TigerBlog still has no idea.


Unknown said...

Attendence problems - no playoffs, no name OOC opponents, 10 game schedule. A shame, because it's good FB in a nice venue.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Doe is 100% correct. The Ivy league needs to enter the 21st century regarding football.3452