LOGAN LOWERY: Not every sellout can keep seats full

LOGAN LOWERY

LOGAN LOWERY

STARKVILLE

Give Mississippi State fans some credit. The maroon and white faithful have sold out 27 consecutive games at Davis Wade Stadium, a streak spanning into its fifth season.

In fact, the last time the Bulldogs failed to sellout the 55,082 seat stadium was Oct. 10, 2009 against Houston during Dan Mullen’s first season.

There is even a waiting list to purchase season tickets in Starkville. Tickets are in such demand that 6,255 additional seats will be added in the ongoing $75 million stadium expansion.

MSU is one of five Southeastern Conference schools to sell out every home game in 2013 and trail only Texas A&M and South Carolina in filling over capacity. The Bulldogs are at 100.96-percent capacity for the season which ranks 13th nationally.

Although State’s stadium will remain roughly half the size of most of its SEC counterparts even after expansion, it will still be over 20,000 seats larger than my first experience at Scott Field.

There were 32,103 fans scattered throughout the then 41,200 seat facility when Jackie Sherrill’s Bulldogs led by quarterback William “Sleepy” Robinson roughed up Kentucky 31-6 on Oct 12, 1991. I was a 10-year old Cub Scout selling programs outside the stadium that day and was allowed in to watch the second half.

Things have certainly changed a lot since then and not all are cosmetic.

The entire game-day experience received an boost a few years ago when “The Junction” was opened to thousands of tailgaters. Now attending State home games has become the norm among fans whereas before it was somewhat of an afterthought.

But an alarming occurrence took place during last week’s homecoming game against Bowling Green.

Another sellout crowd of 55,148 purchased tickets to the contest. However, when the third quarter started, a once-packed 10,000 seat student section was barren. The students simply left after the queen was crowned to go about their evening festivities despite the Bulldogs clinging to an eight-point lead at the time.

Mississippi State was barely able to hold off the Falcons for a 21-20 win in that game. Any type of home field advantage was lost in the second half of that game when the students and several thousand other fans simply packed up and went home.

That has to be cause for concern for director of athletics Scott Stricklin, especially considering that the stadium expansion is set to open next season.

Have Bulldog fans become complacent? Is this the end of the momentum Mullen generated five years ago?

It’s possible we could find out Thursday night as MSU hosts SEC cellar dweller Kentucky.

P.S. Buy a program. That kid could grow up to be your beat writer one day.

Logan Lowery (logan.lowery@ journalinc.com) covers MSU for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at insidemsusports.com

  • Kevin

    Same deal goes on at Ole Miss. The stadium begins to empty at halftime and the drinkers headed back for the Grove never look back. I’ll never forget our 1999 loss to Vandy. We had them by like 21 points at the beginning of the third quarter. The stadium nearly emptied (and this was before the endzone expansion). Then it turned into a good game, for Vandy, who went on to win in OT. That game sucked, but the fans assumed it was over before it was.

    I remember the 2008 home game vs. South Carolina. A home game and we’d just beaten Florida. Wasn’t even a sell out. At kickoff there were about 10,000 empty seats, and sure enough, after halftime there was twice that number and it was a close game. With fans like this, I see why the best Ole Miss can do is 7-6.

  • TrueMaroon5

    This article fails to mention that this is becoming a common problem in college football. I read a WSJ article about two weeks ago that focused on Georgia.