Attendance for major college football programs fell for the seventh time in eight seasons in 2018, to 41,856 fans per game. That’s the lowest figure in 22 seasons. The usual culprits were blamed in what has become an annual bout of soul-searching: high definition televisions give fans a better view of the game, stadium WiFi stinks, tickets and parking are too expensive, students care less about their schools’ teams, etc.
“We’re competing more than ever before against the television product we helped create,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports in March. “There’s no line at the restroom. The beer is always cold (at home). You don’t have to invest eight hours going to the stadium. There’s no parking fees. You don’t have to pay seat license, and on your 70-inch TV it’s a pretty good viewing experience.”
Louisiana Lafayette bucked the trend in 2018: On their way to their first non-losing season since 2014, the Ragin’ Cajuns drew 18,551 fans per game to 41,426-seat Cajun Field, an increase of about 18 percent from 2017. But still, that’s a precipitous 36.4 percent drop from the program’s peak attendance year in 2011, when it averaged a Sun Belt Conference-record 29,171. To further stem the tide, the school recently announced that it will follow the lead of other sports teams in slashing prices on the food and drinks sold at the stadium.
And “slashing” might actually be an understatement, because it really doesn’t get much cheaper than $1 hot dogs and $2 beers along with soft drinks. As Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett points out, you can get three hot dogs, three 16-ounce beers and a popcorn there for a total of $10. That probably is cheaper than buying three hot dogs, three 16-ounce beers and a popcorn at a grocery store.
Clippers’ big deals finalized: Guard/forward Paul George and forward Kawhi Leonard are officially with the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. The team completed its blockbuster trade with Oklahoma City on Wednesday, acquiring George for guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forward Danilo Gallinari and five first-round draft picks — along with the chance to swap draft places in two other years. George and Leonard can become free agents in 2021 if they so choose. A source said that the deal Leonard signed Wednesday is a three-year max that could be worth nearly $110 million, though the third season is at Leonard’s option. George averaged a career-best 28 points last season. Leonard also is coming off the best season of his career, in which he averaged 26.6 points in the regular season and 30.5 points in the playoffs for Toronto in its run to the title. (AP)
Elsewhere in the NBA: Dallas signed Seth Curry, bringing the guard back after he spent a year with Portland, and re-signed restricted free-agent forward Maxi Kleber. Curry signed a $32 million, four-year contract. Kleber is returning on a $35 million, four-year deal.
• Minnesota declined to match an offer sheet to guard Tyus Jones, clearing the way for him to join Memphis. ESPN reported that Jones and the Grizzlies had agreed to a three-year deal worth $28 million. Jones averaged 6.9 points, 4.8 assists and 22.9 minutes last season. (AP)
Dodgers make moves: The Los Angeles Dodgers activated shortstop Corey Seager (hamstring) from the 10-day injured list and sent infielder/outfielder Matt Beaty to triple-A Oklahoma City. It was their second transaction during the All-Star break; on Monday, they activated first baseman David Freese and demoted outfielder Kyle Garlick and infielder Edwin Rios. They also are expected to activate outfielder A.J. Pollock from the 60-day injured list before their next game, on Friday against Boston. (Los Angeles Times)
NFL suspends Bucs defensive back: Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith was suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancers. Smith is entering his fourth NFL season. (AP)
New stadium proposed for Milan: AC Milan and Inter Milan formally want to build a new stadium. The storied Italian soccer clubs jointly asked city officials for permission to go ahead with a 60,000-seat stadium replacing the iconic, publicly owned 80,000-seat San Siro. The clubs said they plan to pay for a $1.35 billion project to become a “sports, entertainment, and shopping” hub creating 3,500 jobs. (AP)
Canucks add Ferland: Forward Micheal Ferland signed a four-year deal with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, a deal that carries an average annual value of $3.5 million. He was an unrestricted free agent after putting up 40 points in 71 games for Carolina last season. (AP)