The University of New Mexico Football team is halfway through its home schedule, and at the current pace, it will be the lowest number of fans per game in the Bob Davie era.
Through three games, the Lobos are averaging 17,908 fans to see the team play at the 39,224 seat Dreamstyle Stadium. The home opener against University of the Incarnate Word, which drew 18,213 fans, was the smallest crowd for a home opener since at least the 2003 season, the last year which the information is available online for every game.
The Lobos are the 27th worst team in the nation in terms of average attendance, ahead of just San Jose State, UNLV and now Nevada among Mountain West institutions. In terms of the percentage of stadium filled, the Lobos are the ninth worst in the entire country.
Last Saturday’s game against Fresno State had an announced crowd of 16,708.
During the 2012 season, Davie’s first at UNM, the Lobos drew an average of 22,306 fans over six games to see a team that had won just three games combined in the previous three seasons. The home opener that year against Southern University drew 28,450 people, which remains the largest crowd for a regular season game against an opponent, other than New Mexico State, since Davie took over.
The smallest crowd in the last six seasons was last year, when 14,744 people came to watch the Lobos take on UNLV in their final home game of the season and the sixth of seven straight losses the team suffered that year.
Announced crowds are often larger than the crowd seems to be on gameday due to the way the UNM Athletic Department counts attendance. As many schools across the country do, UNM counts every ticket sold for a game in the attendance figure, whether it is used or not. That includes student tickets, where the figure is pulled from how many tickets are distributed prior to the game — anyone who picks up a student ticket to a game is counted in the figure.
Student attendance has lagged considerably since the beginning of the year when student attendance was sold out for the game against Incarnate Word. Only a small number of students were scattered across the mostly empty seats. The Lobos have gone 1-2 at Dreamstyle Stadium this season, and were mostly uncompetitive against Fresno State and spent the second half of the Liberty game attempting to come back from a 42-10 halftime deficit.
Students at UNM don’t seem to have an interest in watching a team they feel isn’t good. Jacob Borrego, a junior studying business management, said that he is a sports fan, but he doesn't go to UNM games because of the lack of success.
“Football can't produce, basketball is just starting to get good again and baseball last year was absolutely awful,” Borrego said.
The Lobos 61-19 loss to Utah State on Saturday likely means the the Athletic Department will have to continue to find ways to convince both students and fans to attend football games.
Cameron Goeldner is a sports beat reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Goeldfinger.