Attendance analysis update

I just recently got word that the numbers I used for my USATF Championships attendance analysis are, in a word, bogus. They in no way represent the actual number of people in the stadium. These tweets were from Drew Wartenburg, the head coach at UC Davis.

Another party independently confirmed the basics of Wartenburg’s claim. Figure on more like 5,000 people actually in-stadium. Obviously this puts the attendance analysis in a completely different light and a much more negative one.

This wouldn’t be the first time that attendance numbers at a track meet were less than representative of the numbers of butts in seats. Often times they are really the number of tickets distributed, and that can mean a lot of things.

The 2012 NCAA preliminary meet held in Eugene released attendance numbers that didn’t match up with what observers saw. Those numbers could have included athletes, coaches and other support personnel, which is a significant number of people at a meet like that.

To see an example of what I mean, check out the 1995 NCAA Championships in Knoxville (see page 7). It shows “paid” and “other”, with “other” at 2,189 each day and “paid” maxing out at 1,638. If you think Des Moines was bad this weekend (and it was), Knoxville ’95 might be the worst on record for an NCAA Championships (which usually outdraws the USATF Championships).

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4 Responses to Attendance analysis update

  1. longmayurun says:

    The statement by the UC Davis coach are incorrect. Companies did not buy large quantities of tickets and hand them out. There were tickets available to high school students for free but they do NOT get counted until they are scanned as you walk in the stadium. The count of spectators in the stadium is done by the scanners used when you enter. While the numbers may have been disappointing, your original analysis is accurate. And your comparisons to Eugene are spot on. It is not really a fair comparison at all. Drake does not have what Eugene has, nor does anyone else. And I think Nike likes it that way. But I give Drake and Des Moines credit for stepping up and trying to promote track and field. Not many other cities want to even try. It seems to me the UC Davis coach is more concerned with maintaining his West coast bias than providing accurate info, sadly. There is room for championship track and field outside of Eugene. I have been to Drake numerous times over 30plus years and your original numbers are accurate.

  2. CycloneAlum says:

    Just for the “fun” of comparison. The 2012 Iowa High School STATE MEET attendance was: Three-day attendance: 35,835 (meet record – old mark 33,229, 2010). I think it was broken again in 2013, but I can’t find the data.


    So, in 3 days compared to 4 days, the high school meet outdrew the national meet by 3,500 people.

    And, yes, free tickets were available for high schoolers. And, the attendance figures at the US meet include the volunteers who got all-session passes for the 3 sections in the NE corner (start of 200m).

  3. admin says:

    In defense of USATF and the local organizing committee, high school track is a lot more interesting than pro track. I’ve seen the Pre Classic live maybe three times in my whole life because its always on in the middle of some high school meet I’m at. Pros are boring.

    • longmayurun says:

      To some extent they can be. Especially when they “race” a 5000 professionally at barely under 15 minutes. Yet professional golf draws huge crowds on tv and at the event itself. One difference is nobody will pay to watch Tiger Woods intentionally give a half assed effort. Until pro runners start acting like pro’s and understand that they owe the fans their best effort then they will forever only be cared about at the Olympic Games. The other 3 years will be a yawn from the casual track fan. Deservedly so.