University of Colorado senior Zachary Dodge and his friends made a deal last Saturday: If the Buffs scored in the first half against Missouri, they’d trek down to Folsom Field to cheer the team from the stands, like they’ve done for every home game Saturday for the past four years.
What: CU vs. Texas A&M
When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Folsom Field, CU campus, Boulder
SEASON TICKET TRENDS
Buffs season ticket sales have increased over the past five years, according to statistics provided by CU Sports Information Director Dave Plati. Some fans are threatening to reverse that trend next year if the team, which has lost six of its eight games this season, doesn’t improve.
Here’s a look at sales over the past five years.
General public season tickets sold: 20,913
Student season tickets sold: 11,961
Attendance at CU home games has averaged around 50,000 for most of the past five years. Here’s a look at totals and averages, provided by CU.
Total attendance for the season: 302,462
Average attendance per game: 50,410
2009, first four games (two home games left)
But after watching the dismal first half on TV, in which the Buffs eked out three points late in the second quarter, they decided to bag the game altogether.
“I just wasn’t really feeling the vibe,” said Dodge, a 22-year-old geography major from Silverton who grew up watching Buffaloes football.
“Part of what makes the games so fun is the fan intensity. If nobody is there, why would I want to go? And if I don’t want to go, why would Susie Q. down the street want to go?
“It’s sort of a chain reaction.”
Dodge and his friends weren’t the only ones who didn’t show up to watch the Buffs fall to Missouri, their sixth loss of eight games this season. Attendance was the lowest it’s been all fall, according to CU statistics. More than 8,000 seats in the 53,750-seat stadium were empty.
“We’re truly frustrated,” said Heath Cleveland, a 1983 CU graduate who lives in Colorado Springs and has been to every home game this season, but said he won’t go to any more. “Everything is like getting kicked in the crotch, and you wonder how much more you can take.”
The Buffs face Texas A&M at Folsom Field on Saturday — and several self-described die-hard fans told the Colorado Daily that they won’t be there to watch, despite having season tickets.
As of noon Thursday, CU had sold 46,333 tickets, which is more than were sold for the Missouri game, according to Sports Information Director Dave Plati. Athletic Director Mike Bohn said several factors contributed to that game’s low attendance, including bad weather and an early kickoff time.
He implored fans not to give up.
“Win, lose or tie, the program and the reputation of the program and the environment we create will always serve as a foundation to stand upon,” Bohn said Thursday. “Losing season ticket-holders and having people not choose to be a part of the program erodes the foundation.”
CU sold slightly fewer season tickets this year than last year, but Plati said the university budgeted for the lower number based on the poor economy. This year’s numbers — 22,020 season tickets sold to the general public and 12,500 sold to students — are among the highest totals in five years.
But fans are threatening to reverse that trend unless something — anything — changes. CU graduate Dave McNeil is among those considering not renewing his season tickets next year.
“If they don’t get rid of (head coach Dan) Hawkins, it will be hard for us to renew our tickets,” McNeil said, referencing the group of friends who attend games with him. McNeil, a banker who lives in Denver, said he’s had Buffs season tickets since he was a CU freshman in 1987. For the first time ever, McNeil and his friends left the game last Saturday with four minutes to go in the first half.
“We’re still going (to the games) but we’ve got it on a really short leash,” he said. “If it’s going sideways, we’re going back to the car.”
Lafayette resident Ben Burrows is torn. The 2006 CU graduate and former marching band member loves his Buffs. But he admits that there’s a part of him that’s so disgusted with what he calls “the situation” that, after missing only one home game in eight years, he doesn’t want to go on Saturday.
“I don’t see energy. I don’t see passion,” he said of the team. “It hurts, you know.”
But he’s not ready to abandon them. Not yet.
“I might complain a little bit,” he said. “But I’m going, regardless.”