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Wake Forest Basketball Attendance Numbers-Just How Much Have They Declined?

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A look at attendance in the Joel since 2000 when numbers first became available

Duke v Wake Forest Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Another article that has been requested when I asked what people wanted see on the site was attendance numbers for conference games during the Manning and Bzdelik eras versus during the Gaudio era.

So I decided to go a little deeper than that, and look at attendance statistics for conference games as far back as they were available, which appears to be the 1999-2000 season.

I also looked at total and average attendance for all years of the LJVM Coliseum, which is perhaps even more revealing.

Note: All numbers are based on the official listed attendance from Wake Forest Basketball media guides. Keep in mind that in many cases listed attendance is higher than actual attendance.

Note: The Maximum Capacity of Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum is 14,665.

Note: For the first and only time in school history season tickets were sold out in 2005-06.

Attendance in Joel Coliseum by Year

Average Home Game Attendance by Coach

Dave Odom (1989-2001): 11,202

Skip Prosser (2001-2007): 12,132

Dino Gaudio (2007-2010): 11,951

Jeff Bzdelik (2010-2014): 9,122

Danny Manning (2014-2019): 9,112

Highest Recorded Attendances in Joel Coliseum

14,714 January 11, 2009 vs. #3 North Carolina

14,681 January 28, 2017 vs. #17 Duke

14,673 February 23, 1992 vs. #1 Duke

14,671 December 18, 2004 vs. #14 Texas

14,665 Maximum Capacity 28 Total Times

Attendance vs. Conference Schools by Year by Coach

Dave Odom

Skip Prosser

*The 2005 Miami game was less attended due to a major winter storm hitting on gameday.

Listed Attendance for all games in 2005-06 was 14,665 as season tickets sold out.

Dino Gaudio

Jeff Bzdelik

*The 2013 Maryland game was more heavily attended due to the jersey retirement ceremony for Chris Paul.

Danny Manning

Thanks to Conor O’Neill of the Winston-Salem Journal for the following information on attendance in 2018-19 which came from this article. If you don’t follow him and read his work I highly recommend doing so.

“The recorded attendance for Wake Forest’s 16 home games last season was 122,014 — the lowest in the 30-year history of Joel Coliseum. The average attendance was 7,626 — marking the first time in the building’s history that it’s been less than 8,000. Joel Coliseum has a capacity of 14,665.

The average attendance number for this past season is also boosted by the three times Wake Forest played host to in-state ACC rivals Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State — those games were the only home games that saw crowds of at least 10,000. In the other 13 home games, the average attendance drops to 6,403.”

Average Conference Home Game Attendance by Coach

Note: As stated above, these numbers are based on the official announced attendance figures published by Wake Forest.

Note: Dave Odom is not included since only two years of data are available. However for those who may be curious, the average during those two years was 12,604.

Skip Prosser: 13,602

Dino Gaudio: 13,588

Jeff Bzdelik: 10,889

Danny Manning: 10,368

Summary

This may seem obvious, but it would appear that the more games the team is winning, the higher the attendance numbers are.

The 2004-05 team won a school record 27 games and reached #1 overall for the first time in school history, so it makes sense that season tickets for 2005-06 sold out as a result. Again it is worth noting that while all games were sold out, the actual attendance was not 14,665 for every single game.

Skip Prosser’s teams sold the most tickets, which makes sense given the fact that they won a lot of games, won the 2003 ACC Regular Season Championship, and the 2003-04 and 2004-05 teams had a generational talent and one of the best to ever play at Wake Forest in Chris Paul.

Dave Odom’s teams featuring Tim Duncan, the greatest ever to play at Wake Forest and one of the greatest ever, also sold a whole lot of tickets. There's something about having a generational talent on the team that not only draws people to games, but also leads to a lot of wins.

From 1994-95 to 2009-10, average announced official attendance for all games was well over 10,000 every single season.

Average conference home game announced official attendance was over 12,000 every year from 1999-2000 when data first became available to 2009-10, and began to drop when Jeff Bzdelik took over as coach in 2010.

In 2010 average announced official attendance for all games dropped below 10,000 for the first time since 1993-94 and it hasn't been above 10,000 since.

Average conference game attendance dropped below 10,000 in 2017-18 for the first time since data became available in 1999-2000.

As pointed out above, this past season had the lowest ever average attendance and was the first time ever in the 30 years of Joel Coliseum that overall official average attendance has been below 8,000. Only three total games saw listed attendance of more than 10,000 people.

Prior to Jeff Bzdelik taking over in 2010, only two conference games since data became available in 2000 had an official attendance recorded as less than 10,000.

2018-19 also saw two conference games with less than 5,500 people listed as the official announced attendance.

The Duke and North Carolina games always draw a near-capacity crowd, though in recent years those games have seen the Joel with way more blue than old gold and black.

The Screamin’ Demon student section, once known as the sixth man and known for making the Joel one of the toughest environments in the nation, has become at times almost non-existent since 2010. Wake Forest basketball used to be THE event on campus and in town, though now it is just another option if you are tired of studying.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that winning basketball games draws more fans to games (duh!).

So does having an atmosphere that fans enjoy, like the Tie-Dye Nation years of Skip Prosser and Dino Gaudio. Players feed off of an atmosphere like that, and winning games causes fans to attend more games and be more vocal in cheering for their team.

Barring a major turnaround next season, I would expect to see attendance numbers continue to drop as long as Danny Manning is still coaching Wake Forest and results are the same or only marginally better. I really hope that I am wrong, and Danny leads the Deacs to a major turnaround next season, but based on the past five years I just don't see next season as being so much better that attendance numbers dramatically increase.

Comment below if you have any more ideas for articles. As always, Go Deacs!