Rams not only selling out home games, but providing league ticket boost as well

VCU fans filled a large portion of Richmond's Robins Center earlier this season.

VCU fans filled a large percentage of Richmond’s Robins Center earlier this season.

I was doing my usual VCU Google session with breakfast this morning when I stumbled upon this account of VCU’s recent road win at Charlotte.

The “article” was mostly a complaint-filled rant on Saturday night’s officiating (as one might expect from a bitter fan on the losing end), which I suppose is somewhat flattering in itself, but there was one sincerely flattering line that quoted an opposing die-hard student, Ryan Benson, who commented that it was the “biggest game at Halton in years.”

Following a historic First 4 to Final 4 run and tons of press for star head coach Shaka Smart, I figured the Rams were certainly more of a draw than in years past, but after reading through forums posts of bitter A-10 rivals, began to question whether or not that thought was somewhat tainted by my obvious VCU bias.

Needless to say, it was nice to read that statement from a Charlotte fan in a vent-fest of a bitter article, but I decided to dig around a bit to see if I could find out just how much of a draw VCU, as well as other A-10 teams, have been in conference play. I simply looked up the attendance numbers from conference games, and compared them to those teams’ season-long home averages.

After crunching all the numbers, VCU and Atlantic 10 fans have to be pleased with VCU’s appeal, as the Rams have been a huge boost to opposing team’s home attendance averages thus far, bringing in 69% more fans to those A-10 games than those teams have averaged during their 2012-13 seasons thus far.

Here are the complete results:

1. VCU A-10 away attendance versus team home average
@ St. Bonaventure 4,675 v 4,056
@ Duquesne 6,278 v 3,559
@ Richmond 9,071 v 5,181
@ Rhode Island 6,632 v 4,071
@ Charlotte 8,794 v 6,222
Total 39,009 v 23,089 = +69%

2Xavier
@ St. Bonaventure 3,892 v 4,056
@ Charlotte 7,280 v 6,222
@ St. Joseph’s 4,200* v 4,556
@ Richmond 8,317 v 5,181
@ Duquesne 6,511 v 3,559
Total 30,200 v 23,574 = +28.1%

3. UMass
@ St. Louis 8,462 v 7,028
@ Fordham 2,567 v 2,163
@ La Salle 2,723 v 2,507
@ Charlotte 9,105 v 6,222
Total 22,857 v 17,920 = +27.6%

4. Butler
@ Xavier 9,876 v 9820 (technically scheduled as a non-conference game)
@ St. Joseph’s 4,200* v 4,556
@ Dayton 13,455 v 12,395
@ La Salle 3,400 v 2,507
@ St. Louis 10,612 v 7,028
@ George Washington 4,488 v 2,439
Total 46,031 v 38,745 = +18.8%

5. St. Louis
@ Temple 5,735 v 5,114
@ Duquesne 2,702 v 3,559
@ St. Bonaventure 4,839 v 4,056
@ Fordham 2,006 v 2,163
@ Richmond 8,121 v 5,181
Total 23,403 v 20,073 = +16.6%

6. Charlotte
@ Rhode Island 3,758 v 4,071
@ Richmond 8,321 v 5,181
@ George Washington 2,421 v 2,439
@ Temple 4,785 v 5,114
Total 19,285 v 16,805 = +14.8%

7. Rhode Island
@ Richmond 4,024 v 5,181
@ St. Louis 8,693 v 7,028
@ Fordham 3,014 v 2,163
@ Butler 10,000 v 7,682
@ UMass 4,124 v 4,852
Total 29,855 v 26,906 = +10.7%

8. Dayton
@ VCU 7,693 v 7,693
@ La Salle 2,012 v 2,507
@ Xavier 10,250 v 9,820
@ St. Louis 9,548 v 7,028
Total 29,503 v 27,048 = +9.1%

9. George Washington
@ Xavier 10,005 v 9,820
@ UMass 7,143 v 4,852
@ Rhode Island 4,111 v 4,071
@ Duquesne 2,960 v 3,559
Total 24,219 v 22,302 = +8.6%

10. Temple
@ Xavier 9,836 v 9,820
@ George Washington 2,430 v 2,439
@ Butler 10,000 v 7,682
@ St. Joseph’s 4,200* v 4,556
@ Dayton 12,871 v 12,395
Total 39,337 v 36,892 = +6%

11. La Salle
@ Charlotte 5,754 v 6,222
@ Xavier 10,039 v 9,820
@ VCU 7,693 v 7,693
@ George Washington 3,347 v 2,439
Total 26,833 v 26,174 = +2.5%

12. St. Joseph’s
@ Duquesne 3,285 v 3,559
@ VCU 7,693 v 7,693
@ Fordham 1,982 v 2,163
@ Dayton 12,453 v 12,395
@ UMass 4,479 v 4,852
Total 29,892 v 30,662 = -2.6%

13. Richmond
@ La Salle 2,282 v 2,507
@ Butler 7,022 v 7,682
@ UMass 5,467 v 4,852
@ Temple 4,679 v 5,114
Total 19,450 v 20,155 = -3.5%

14. Fordham
@ Charlotte 5,275 v 6,222
@ Dayton 12,131 v 12,395
@ VCU 7,693 v 7,693
@ La Salle 2,246 v 2,507
Total 27,345 v 28,817 = -5.2%

15. Duquesne
@ Fordham 1,232 v 2,163
@ UMass 3,421 v 4,852
@ Dayton 12,438 v 12,395
@ St. Bonaventure 4,991 v 4,056
Total 22,082 v 23,406 = -5.7%

16. St. Bonaventure
@ George Washington 1,985 v 2,439
@ Temple 6,607 v 5,114
@ St. Joseph’s 4,051 v 4,556
@ Butler 6,591 v 7,682
@ Rhode Island 1,933 v 4,071
Total 21,167 v 23,862 = -11.3%

Some quick thoughts on factors that effect the numbers:

*1. St. Joseph’s skews the numbers - Their home average is officially reported by the Atlantic 10 as 4,556, but their actual home court, Michael J. Hagan arena’s max capacity is 4,200, which equals a tiny hit to Temple, Xavier and Butler’s numbers. Anyway, you can send your hate mail to the Palestra for that one.

2. Big games (rivalries, homecoming, etc) greatly effect the numbers – The best example is the case of the Charlotte 49ers. They’ve only boosted attendance in one game versus being a drag in three, but that game was a plus 3,140 at Richmond. That basically moves them from one of the worst in the league to No.6. Send your hate mail to Richmond’s AD of marketing, Jana Ross, for that one.

3. Stadium capacity and quality of hosting opponent hurts averages…especially Butler’s – The Bulldogs have basically only played in front of sellout crowds against quality opponents. Butler has yet to really take on a team that isn’t filling the majority of their stadium every game, so expect the Bulldogs number to REALLY rise when they start to take on the Rhode Island and Richmond’s of the league (like VCU already has). If anyone wants to redo this list and include stadium capacity into the formula, be my guest.

4. Hot and cold opponents effect the numbers – It’s simple really: catch someone while they are hot, or more importantly, before their fans have given up on them, and you get a boost.

5. Traveling fans are nice too – As that Charlotte article mentioned, VCU travels well, therefor our presence at away games is certainly a positive for the total attendance number. Good for us.

About Mat Shelton

VCU School of the Arts (BFA '07) and Center for Sport Leadership (M.Ed. '10) alumnus, Mat has followed VCU basketball since the Sunbelt days when he'd attend games with his father. Worked as a graduate assistant in the VCU Sports Information Department for the '09-'10 season, but has covered VCU basketball for VCURamNation.com since 2007. mshelton@vcuramnation.com @MatShelton