2017 was the lowest attended season of Louisville Cardinal Football since the stadium expanded to 55,000 in 2010 with an average attendance of 46,159.  The trend was striking because the Cards played the entire 2017 season WITH Lamar Jackson who had won the 2016 Heisman Trophy a year earlier.  The 2016 season, by comparison, was the highest average stadium attendance in Cardinal Stadium History at 54,065 in the stands each game.

There are several factors that contributed to UofL’s slip in attendance in 2017.

1) UofL’s 1st home game was Week 3 of the season and the Cards were beaten badly by Clemson 47-21 and followed up that performance with 2 uninspiring opponents in Kent State & Murray State.  In most years UofL’s home opener has been a weaker opponent with high caliber opponents coming later.  In 2017 UofL started out big and didn’t get their ‘opener bump’ against lesser opponents.

2) Louisville Athletics overall suffered in 2017-18 with attendance down overall within the program as the FBI scandal permeated negativity throughout the fanbase.

3) Attendance is down overall throughout the country in live sporting events as a result of a better television experience and a steady increase in the cost to attend a game live.

4) The Syracuse game weather was abysmal.  The forecast for gameday was terrible all week and the meteorologists were correct and fans had to take cover for a weather delay.  When the game was being played it was windy and rainy throughout for a mid-November contest. The 34,265 in attendance is the lowest for a UofL Football game since the final year of the Steve Kragthorpe era.


2017’s Regression Was Interruption of Steady Growth

Louisville Football prior to 2017 had been the beneficiary of relatively sustained growth of about 4.23% per year from 1998-2016 and the 2016 season was the 3rd season ever that the Cards had at least 50,000 in attendance for each game on its schedule.

Even if the Syracuse bad weather game had been omitted (bad opponent + bad weather = bad attendance) UofL still would have raised UofL’s average attendance to just 48,538 which would have only been better than the 2011 since the stadium was expanded in 2010.

Moving forward UofL will clearly grow in attendance in 2018 for no other reason than the capacity and availability of tickets will increase by 6,000.  Cardinal Stadium will now hold 61,000 when it opens vs. Indiana State and hopefully the Cards will get a benefit of the ‘opener bump’ in Game 2 of 2018 being the first in the newly expanded stadium and the second home game of the season will be against in-state Western Kentucky before hosting Florida State.

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
55588 53127 50019 55428 55332
47812 55632 55396 50179 53647
47826 55121 50121 51463 51586
44679 55218 41486 50227 55168
46787 51218 46158 55414 55215
34265 54075 51233 55118 53027
46421
Total 276957 324391 294413 317829 370396
Average 46159.5 54065.2 49068.8 52971.5 52913.71
2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
55386 46157 55327 39344 42696
47553 47228 51427 39948 38694
53334 53267 48427 37268 42208
50167 48435 55106 21497 42523
53271 44817 48591 33223 38319
44609 51321 43887 23422 40384
45618 51772 37822
34796
Total 349938 291225 354537 194702 317442
Average 49991.14 48537.5 50648.14 32450.33 39680.25
2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
42185 42597 42647 42681 40205
40882 42704 40219 40220 38489
40922 41549 41334 42032 40432
40894 43217 42692 40107 38119
34792 40348 41219 37617 30114
39612 38476 37896  – 33268
 –
 –
Total 239287 248891 246007 202657 220627
Average 39881.17 41481.83 41001.17 40531.4 36771.17
2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
42660 38129 42510 38147 42643
38109 35214 41227 40332 38231
34127 39256 38121 41214 35479
32428 39389 39233 33879 39247
36253 33627 38024 27261 32649
35261 40479 30387 34786 40349
 – 40328 41826
 –
Total 218838 226094 269830 257445 228598
Average 36473 37682.33 38547.14 36777.86 38099.67
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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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