Later this afternoon, my dear wife Karen and I will head off to the Carrier Dome to witness the Syracuse University football team’s final game of this 2013 regular season. The Orange needs to beat Boston College to even its record at 6-6 and become eligible for a bowl bid.
We will be rooting.
Us and about 25,000 other fans, if last week’s game against Pittsburgh is any indication. The SU students were already gone on their Thanksgiving break. The dome, which fits just shy of 50,000, looked barely half full, no matter that the official crowd count was announced at some 38,000.
They say the number announced indicates tickets purchased rather than bodies through the turnstiles. And that would mean there are slews of people holding tickets paid for with good, hard cash that have decided not to show up. Anyway you look at it, that is not a good thing.
I know from my TV-watching that the Orange is not the only ACC squad that plays to empty seats. My alma mater, the University of Maryland, does not regularly fill the 54,000 seats in Byrd Stadium. I turned on Pittsburgh hosting Miami just yesterday afternoon to spot a slew of open Pittsburgh Steelers-colored seats at Heinz Stadium.
The basketball Orange, on the other hand, does not suffer from this attendance problem. They will fill every space allotted for the biggest basketball game, and every good seat in the hoops configuration for the dome for many more. Last season, the record was set at 35,012 watching the last Big East home game vs. rival Georgetown. It’s possible that more than that may squeeze in this Feb. 1 to witness the first Atlantic Coast Conference home game vs. Duke.
But the Orange basketball team, coached by Jim Boeheim, is a proven winner. Last year it reached the Final Four.
The Orange football team hasn’t been that-kind-of-good since 25 years ago, when Dick MacPherson coached them to a 16-16 tie against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and a record of 11-0-1. The next best were three seasons with 10-2 records, the following year and in 1991 and 1992. The dome rocked, full for football, back then.
I only sort-of understand. Sure, it’s easier to get out there and support a big winner. It’s more fun to witness victory than defeat.
Yes, the economy around here is challenged. Believe me, I totally understand that.
But still, Syracuse, with its entrance into the interesting ACC, should be drawing fans from Rochester to the west, Binghamton to the south, Watertown to the north and Albany to the east.
Major college football, to me, is a good draw, what with the marching bands and cheerleaders and orchestrated yells. Go early, tailgate, watch the band and Otto the Orange on the quad, and you can fill five or six hours. Tickets for a game at the dome aren’t that expensive. Single-game tickets can be had for as little as $25. There are packages that bring the price even lower. Secondary online sites like stubhub can go low. Then there are the group of ticket resellers standing at every corner on your walk up the hill.
Add to that a team striving for .500, and more than 25,000 should show up.
Do you support your teams in person win or lose, or only when it’s a the top of the league?