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College football spring games draw huge crowds

April 28, 2015

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Ohio Stadium. (Via Flickr.com user Andrew Whitis)

The score is absolutely meaningless, but college football spring games are becoming big draws for top Division I schools around the U.S.

The Ohio State Buckeyes, the defending National Champions, demonstrated this trend earlier this month when 99,391 fans attended their spring football game on April 18, a national record.

Spring games are different from a normal college football matchup, because teams divide their squads in half and scrimmage themselves instead of facing off against a rival school.

If there isn’t a set quarterback yet for the upcoming season, sports reporters typically focus on QB’s vying for the starting position. A team usually has at least three quarterbacks on its roster in case of injuries.

There are also plenty of money angles, such as ticket prices, for business reporters to follow as well.

The Buckeyes’ tickets were priced at just $5 (club seats were $15), and that’s within the range of typical spring games. Some schools, like the University of Nebraska and the University of Southern California, charged $10-$15 per ticket, while the University of Michigan’s game was free to the public.

Selling spring game tickets, however, is usually not the No. 1 goal for college football programs. Most athletic departments want to drum up enthusiasm for the upcoming season with this intra-team matchup by showcasing new talent, or, in Michigan’s case, a new coach.

In fact, charging more than a certain price for a spring game has backfired in the past for some schools. Ohio State learned its lesson in 2014 when they asked fans to shell out $20, but then had to to reduce the price to $5 when ticket sales were low.

Most spring games have wrapped up by now, and Big Ten Network compiled the top-eight most attended games.

1. Ohio State: 99,391

2. Nebraska: 76,881

3. Penn State 68,000

4. Alabama: 65,175

5. Tennessee: 63,016

6. Auburn: 62,143

7. Michigan: 60,000

8. Michigan State: 48,000

If you cover a college town with a popular football team, this a great topic to follow. And if you’ve already missed your team’s spring game, it might be worth taking a look at concession prices or stadium features as the 2015 season fast approaches.


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