Miller: Pac-12 Hoops Attendance a Measure of Success

Larger home crowds generally correlate to more wins and a recruiting advantage

Posted on April 29, 2022


  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

Official attendance statistics are often sources of pride, while simultaneously drawing the ire of rival fan bases.

Pac-12Recently, a Twitter war erupted between the Oregon and USC faithful over the number of spectators at their respective Spring Games.

But in basketball, a larger home crowd is arguably magnified, generally correlating to higher win totals and a recruiting advantage.

High four and five-star prospects repeatedly point to the atmosphere of an arena as one of their primary reasons for committing.

And when competing for the top talent in the country, a raucous home crowd can be the deciding-factor that lands a projected lottery pick.

The list below sets forth the Pac-12’s official average men’s basketball home attendance statistics at each school for the 2021-22 season.

Some of the numbers are surprising, but the Conference provides the number of tickets sold, not the number of tickets scanned.

The accounting method arguably skews the true picture, but it also reflects the number of committed season ticket holders each program has.

So without further ado, we present the Conference’s official ’21-22 home attendance numbers.

1. Arizona

McKale Center | Arizona Athletics

McKale Center
Capacity: 14,545
2021-22 Average Attendance: 13,414

It’s no surprise that the Wildcats led the Conference in attendance for the 37th-year in a row.

Arizona football Pac-12The demand for tickets is astronomical in the Old Pueblo, with baseline lower bowl season tickets going for $77,000.00 a pop heading into next year.

Yes, you read that right, 77-thousand for a baseline seat, nine rows up. And that’s for the baseline. If you want mid-court tickets, those are completely sold out in the lower bowl and rarely come available.

2. Arizona State

Desert Financial Arena | Sun Devil Athletics

Desert Financial Arena
Capacity: 14,198
2021-22 Average Attendance: 7,973

One of the more surprising teams on this list, Arizona State’s numbers are a testament to the job Bobby Hurley has done in Tempe.

Desert Financial Arena is one of the larger stadiums in the league, and the Phoenix metro is one of the most populous in the country.

But finishing second in attendance is a respectable accomplishment. There’s been a palpable buzz around the program during his tenure that has driven up season ticket sales.

Now, it’s Hurley’s job to capitalize on the momentum before it dissipates into the desert sun.

3. Utah

Jon M. Huntsman Center | Utah Athletics

Jon M. Huntsman Center
Capacity: 15,000
2021-22 Average Attendance: 7,669

Arguably the most shocking result in the official record book, Utah comes in third for Craig Smith’s first season.

The published numbers are in stark contrast to reality, where the Utes often appeared to play in a mostly empty arena. The staff at the Huntsman Center were even forced to curtain off the top level due to the lack of fans.

Still, the high number is reflective of the sleeping giant that Utah Basketball’s home-court advantage could be.

4. UCLA

Pauley Pavilion | NBBJ.com

Pauley Pavilion
Capacity: 13,800
2021-22 Average Attendance: 7,410

Bringing back a team fresh off a Final Four run, UCLA’s 2021-22 attendance statistics are arguably unacceptable.

There’s no reason that a team that began the year ranked No. 2 in the country should struggle with fan turnout.

And sitting within the greater Los Angeles area with over 12 million people, the attendance levels might fairly be described as paltry.

Pauley Pavilion holds 13,800 fans and the Bruins are getting out-done by the likes of ASU and Utah.

5. Oregon

Matthew Knight Arena | OregonLive.com

Matthew Knight Arena
Capacity: 12,364 
2021-22 Average Attendance: 6,970

Attendance issues were a cause for concern within the Oregon media this season. The lack of dedication was surprising, arguably costing the Ducks games they otherwise would have won.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Matthew Knight Arena has become known as one of the most difficult places to play on the West Coast, but it’s notoriety is substantially weakened with low fan turnout.

California and Arizona State both secured shocking upset victories in Eugene this past season, putting a dent in the arena’s image.

6. Colorado

CU Events Center | CUBuffs.com

CU Events Center
Capacity: 11,064
2021-22 Average Attendance: 6,955

The Buffs have one of the most beneficial home-court advantages in the Pac-12. Yet, a hostile crowd is half of the building’s strength, and the absence of fans was obvious on television.

The number was down from the 2019-20 season (the last comparable year due to the COVID restrictions in ’20-21), despite CU coming off a Round of 32 appearance with the Pac-12’s top-ranked recruiting class.

The 16-point victory over No. 2 Arizona was historic, but the team played 17 other home games and could have used that energy in each one.

7. Washington

Alaska Airlines Arena | gohuskies.com

Alaska Airlines Arena
Capacity: 10,000
2021-22 Average Attendance: 6,554

The demand for Husky Basketball tickets is one of the more perplexing situations in the league.

Washington football pac-12Sitting within easy walking distance of a light rail station and just outside of downtown Seattle, Hec Ed is a different animal when it’s packed.

The student section is placed right on top of the two benches, and at full force, it’s arguably the most imposing in the Conference.

Mix in the deep basketball tradition within the Emerald City, and it appears that Washington’s number should consistently be among the top of the Pac-12.

But coming off a five-win season, the middling attendance is probably better than expected.

8. California

Haas Pavilion | CalBears.com

Haas Pavilion
Capacity: 11,877
2021-22 Average Attendance: 4,746

There’s no way around it: Cal’s numbers are bad. With its location in the Bay Area and status as one of the country’s top academic institutions, the potential for California Basketball is sky-high.

Yet, the Bears’ basketball fans seem to be almost non-existent. For the sixth measurable season in a row, Cal’s average attendance is lower than the year prior.

The local Berkeley media appear to be banging the drum for Mark Fox’s firing, and numbers like these don’t help.

Still, the program seems to face a chicken or the egg conundrum. How do you compete for top talent when nobody goes to the games?

9. USC

Galen Center | USCTrojans.com

Galen Center
Capacity: 10,258
2021-22 Average Attendance: 3,860

Changing the perception of a “football school” is never easy, and the Trojan’s attendance numbers aren’t moving the needle.

usc logoThe images from the home games against Arizona and UCLA are indications of what USC Basketball could be, but Andy Enfield’s team played 14 other home games last season where the SC fans were nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, the lack of consistent fan support hasn’t affected Enfield’s ability to recruit. Still, can you imagine USC’s recruiting if the Galen Center was packed every game?

10. Oregon State

Gill Coliseum | OSUBeavers.com

Gill Coliseum
Capacity: 9,604
2021-22 Average Attendance; 3,666

Almost all of Oregon State’s average attendance numbers likely came from season ticket holders, because there were games when it appeared that less than 500 spectators were in attendance.

The unwillingness to show up for games was disappointing after the Elite Eight run, but not particularly surprising given the 3-28 record.

Still, when reasonably well-attended, Gill Coliseum is a tough environment to play in, and the Beavs probably would have won a few more games if their fans had shown up.

11. Washington State

Beasley Coliseum | Pac-12.com

Beasley Coliseum
Capacity: 12,058
2021-22 Average Attendance: 3,133

Wazzu has a problem. With one of the Cougars’ best teams in more than a decade, the shockingly low fan support is worrying.

Beasley Coliseum holds over 12,000 people and a mostly empty arena is a bad look. Kyle Smith has proven he can recruit to Pullman, but a hostile environment is needed to take the next step.

Until Washington State can attract respectable crowds, the program might be bumping up to its ceiling.

12. Stanford

Maples Pavilion | gostanford.com

Maples Pavilion
Capacity: 7,392
2021-22 Average Attendance: 2,360

Jerod Haase has proven that fan support is not needed to recruit at a high level. Ziaire Williams, Harrison Ingram, and Tyrell Terry have all come through Palo Alto over the last few seasons.

But the Tree have yet to make the NCAA Tournament during Haase’s tenure, and the complete lack of fan support is arguably a contributing factor.

With highly touted freshmen seemingly coming through each year, the potential of Stanford Basketball is limited by its attendance issues.




—More from Dane Miller—