Attendance drops in FCS playoffs

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - One year after an attendance record was set in the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs, the 2016 tournament drew 22.6 percent fewer fans.

The attendance figures reported for 23 games totaled 199,945, an average of 8,693 per game. The 2015 playoffs drew a record 258,066, or 11,220 per game.

All playoff games are played at campus sites except for the championship game in Frisco, Texas.

The tone for the 2016 playoffs was set in the first round when eight games drew an average of 3,397 fans, with only two games above 5,000. Crowds at first-round games are typically low because they are played over Thanksgiving weekend and only six days after the 24-team playoff field is announced.

Other contributing factors to the drop-off in attendance:

- Jacksonville State, which ranked second in FCS attendance average in 2015, hosted three games in that playoff, but only one in 2016 (it was the playoff high at 18,838);

- FCS attendance leader Montana drew 14,575 for a first-round game in 2015, but did not qualify for the 2016 playoffs;

- The 2015 championship game set an attendance high (21,836) for all finals played in Frisco since they were moved there in 2010. With renovation at Toyota Stadium lowering capacity for the Jan. 7 championship game, attendance for James Madison's 28-14 win over Youngstown State was 14,423, down 34 percent.

Updated February 16, 2017

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