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Low attendance at NMSU sporting events raises concerns

Low attendance at almost every game at the Pan American Center has been a constant the last couple of years, but the NMSU sports marketing team is determined to change that.

“Each task and each game is a completely different challenge. You have to think about it critically and target each one in a different way,” said DJ Downs, an assistant athletic director for marketing at NMSU.

Low attendance at NMSU sporting events concerns athletics department officials. (Photo by Erin Griego/Kokopelli)

Downs discussed the attendance challenges NMSU has faced the last few years and believes it is crucial to make the games fun. His goal is to implement activities and prizes as often as possible to get students and fans more involved. Aggie t-shirts, shades, posters, hats and even bicycles and TV’s are just some of the many potential prizes fans can receive by attending games.

The NMSU basketball team has enjoyed some success the last few seasons, yet still fails to sell out the Pan American Center consistently. Last season’s matchup against Long Beach State, a team predicted to win the Big West Conference, only brought in 3,600 fans.

The season opener against Arizona Christian brought in a season high 4,853 people. The Pan American Center has a seating capacity of just over 13,000.

The NMSU women’s soccer match against rival UNM on Aug. 24 drew 600 spectators, which generated the sixth highest revenue total for a soccer game since the university first offered the sport in 2009. The Aggies draw an average of 716 fans to home games compared to UNM’s average of 1,143.

“I definitely think that having a big crowd brings a lot of energy to the field,” said Kelly Burton, a defender on the NMSU women’s soccer team. “Having the noise and the excitement of someone scoring a goal or making a good tackle is motivation to play harder.”

During halftime of the rivalry game, local community youth soccer teams were invited onto the field. Afterward, the 12-and-under teams provided some entertainment for the audience by shooting goals at one of the NMSU marketing interns. The game concluded in dramatic fashion, as the Aggies scored the only goal of the match in the last 40 seconds of the game to win. It was a truly crowd-pleasing game that could potentially fuel momentum for the season.

Burton, like many other students, hears about sports games by seeing one of the many posters and ads around campus. Promotions for the games posted on university social media pages are frequently updated as well to get the maximum number of people at each game. Burton believes the games and giveaways at sporting events do help increase attendance, but there could be more done to advertise the games.

“I wish there was more support from students and the fan base in general,” expressed Mark Villegas, a sophomore at New Mexico State. Villegas believes the games would be much more enjoyable if more fans attended. A common theme among students is that school pride along with enthusiasm can contribute to making NMSU athletics more fun.

“I was a player in high school and when people didn’t attend games it would bring me down,” said Brooke Dees, a freshman at New Mexico State. Dees believes that having more fans at games creates a good atmosphere for the athletes and positively affects their performance.

NMSU has several sports teams that compete against top schools around the country every year. NMSU athletics department officials hope students will strive to attend a few games and help create a better experience for the fans as well as the student athletes on the field. Whether students attend for the collegiate sporting experience or just for free giveaways, all students are encouraged to make their way more often to one of the various fields or courts to watch the Aggies play ball.

The Aggies face the University of Troy in the football team’s home opener Saturday, Sept. 16, at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

To find out more about Aggie athletics, including all 2017-2018 sports schedules, visit the official NMSU athletics department website.

(Video by Melissa Barraza/Kokopelli)

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