If there isn’t a surge of ticket sales between now and Saturday morning, Missouri State-Iowa could feature the smallest attendance for a Hawkeyes football game at Kinnick Stadium since 2003.
As of Thursday afternoon, 6,300 tickets remained for the game. About half of those were unsold student tickets. The stadium’s capacity is 70,585.
With the temperature expected to be similar (hot) to last Saturday, an opponent with no marquee value, and the Hawkeyes coming off a loss to Northern Illinois, there was no bounce at the box office this week. Last Saturday’s crowd was 67,402. That’s not exactly an empty house, but it was the smallest crowd since 54,471 attended the Buffalo-Iowa game on Sept. 6, 2003.
From 2003 through last season, Kinnick has seen 62 sellouts. There were five in 2003, then nothing but sellouts until 67,676 were at the 2008 home-finale against Purdue. Just one game wasn’t sold out (Arkansas State) in 2009, and there were nothing but sellouts the following three seasons except for last season’s finale against Nebraska, which was just 780 short.
There was just one sellout in each of Kirk Ferentz’s first three seasons as Iowa coach, 1999 through 2001. In ’99, the season-finale against Minnesota drew just 55,386. In 2000, the Hawkeyes’ average home crowd was 61,123, its lowest average since Kinnick expanded from 60,000 to 66,000 prior to the 1983 season.
This is almost certain to be the first season Iowa’s average attendance won’t top 70,000 since 2003, when the average was 65,798.
There are some Big Ten programs that would welcome the Hawkeyes’ attendance “problem.” The home-opener crowds for Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota last week ranged from 40,278 to 44,217.
If you don’t think a few thousand tickets matter, talk to Penn State, which saw its attendance drop 4.6 percent last year.
Said Nittany Lions football coach Bill O’Brien: “There is nothing more important to the future of Penn State football and Penn State athletics than a full Beaver Stadium this season.”
Penn State is making a push to get students to buy tickets for its Saturday game against Eastern Michigan.
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