College athletic departments have dealt with declining attendance numbers in recent years, and Lipscomb is no exception.
The Bisons saw a drop in men’s basketball attendance during both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Busy schedules, distracted students and the availability of online broadcasts are among the factors to blame.
“That’s a hard thing everywhere,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said of attendance. “It doesn’t matter what the sport is, and it doesn’t matter the success level of the teams. It’s harder to get people to come and watch the game in person when they have to give up the conveniences of watching it at home.”
But this year has been different for the Lipscomb. Following its first-ever NCAA tournament berth in 2018, the Bisons have enjoyed a 37 percent increase in attendance.
Lipscomb played its final home game of the regular season against NJIT in front of 1,908 fans Monday night. That brought the season’s total home gate to 28,645 over 14 contests – an average of 2,046 fans per game.
That’s the program’s best average since the 2011-12 season, when it averaged 2,343 fans. Despite having an NCAA tournament squad last season, the Bisons drew just 1,495 per game.
“The success of our team has really helped [attendance],” Lipscomb senior Matt Rose said. “Obviously, last year and the year before we were good, but we didn’t have the track record that we have now. This year everyone expects big things from us, and they want to come see us play.”
Lipscomb’s marketing department has also increased its efforts this season. Free pizza and free t-shirts have been given to students that attend games, and the team has hosted Star Wars Day and an adoption rally, among other promotions.
“The athletic [department] has done some great promos to get people to come to the games,” Rose said. “Free pizza and stuff like that is always good.”
Alexander said he is appreciative of the work that’s been done behind the scenes, but he also acknowledged the challenge of continuing to grow attendance numbers.
“There are so many more options [for how people use their time],” Alexander said. “We’re going to have to continue to find creative ways to entice people to come”
Lipscomb’s attendance average could rise if the team hosts multiple ASUN tournament games next week.
Bisons fighting for No. 1 ASUN seed
Thanks to Liberty’s 75-70 loss to North Florida last Saturday, Lipscomb is back in a two-way tie for first place with the Flames.
Lipscomb stands to win the tiebreaker because it ranks No. 46 in the NET, while Liberty is No. 64. But the Bisons must beat North Alabama on Friday to cement the No. 1 seed, which comes with home court privileges for the entirety of the ASUN tournament.
The Bisons are guaranteed to host an ASUN quarterfinal next Monday, March 4 at Allen Arena against a to-be-determined opponent. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Lipscomb briefly fell out of most bracket projections after losing to Liberty and FGCU in mid-February.
But Liberty’s loss to the Ospreys led most experts to put the Bisons back in the field of 68. Here’s where five national bracketologists expect Lipscomb to land (as of Feb. 28):
- Joe Lunardi/ESPN: No. 12 seed vs. No. 5 Virginia Tech (Midwest Region – Jacksonville, Fla.)
- Jerry Palm/CBS Sports: 12 seed vs. No. 5 Iowa (West Region – San Jose, Calif.)
- Shelby Mast/USA Today: No. 12 seed vs. No. 5 Maryland (East Region – Hartford, Conn.)
- Chris Dobbertean/SB Nation: 11 seed vs. No. 6 Cincinnati (South Region – Tulsa, Okla.)
- Kerry Miller/Bleacher Report: No. 11 seed vs. No. 6 Wofford (South Region – Jacksonville, Fla.
Photo by McKenzi Harris