North Texas Daily

Student support for Mean Green football growing slowly

Student support for Mean Green football growing slowly

Student support for Mean Green football growing slowly
October 17
13:44 2013

Brett Medeiros / Senior Staff Writer

On Sept. 10, 2011, UNT reached its highest attendance in Apogee Stadium. It was the inaugural game and its recorded attendance of 28,075 stands as the third-highest attendance at any stadium in the program’s history.

“Our goal is to fill Apogee on a regular basis and we have made progress, but I don’t think until we hit 30,000 people every game that we are going to meet our attendance goal,” athletic director Rick Villarreal said. “We have 36,000 students and about 200,000 graduates in Dallas-Fort Worth, and I won’t be happy until we are filling the stadium up every week.”

Through three home games in the 2013 season, the Mean Green reached 20,000 twice – against the University of Idaho and Middle Tennessee State University. Against Ball State University, 14,747 people attended the game with nearly half of the crowd leaving at halftime.

“I think a big problem here is that 30 to 40 percent of the student body commutes,” English sophomore Matt Farmer said. “If they’re not here anyway, they’re not going to travel one night for a football game.”

UNT football is trying to overcome about 25 years of apathy toward the football program when there was no investment in the program that Villarreal considers a self-imposed penalty from 1975 to 2000.

Bringing head coach Dan McCarney has helped the program get off to its best start since 2003 this season, but the attendance is still not meeting expectations.

“It’s a much slower process than I thought it would be to get fans to come to games,” McCarney said. “However, we are gradually getting better without fan support. We need more. We need them all to fill out the empty seats.”

All throughout the Mean Green athletic staff, people are trying to bring in more fans to Apogee Stadium, where the team is undefeated this season and 10-4 since the stadium opened.

Attempts to bring in better numbers start with Villarreal and McCarney. During the summer, each reached out to incoming freshmen during orientation, made trips to fraternity houses and met with other groups around the area.

Other members of the athletic pepartment staff have also taken it upon themselves to reach out to the community and student body and get more people at games.

“There is no easy formula to bring in more people,” Senior Associate Athletic Director Eric Capper said. “There’re times where we do those things and don’t get anything, yet when we don’t do those things we get great numbers.”

A crowd of 20,000 at Apogee can sound like a crowd twice that number, providing a clear home field advantage. Villarreal said a full Apogee Stadium would rival much of the Division-I stadiums across the country in home field advantage.

“Not only would a game like that be fun to watch but it would be extremely tough to hear,” Villarreal said. “When we opened the stadium against Houston, it was deafening.”

The highest attendance mark was set in 2003 at Fouts Field during a 52-14 victory over Baylor University where 29,437 of the Mean Green faithful attended the event.

Looking back, there is a common pattern with UNT attendance during football season. Games that kick off at noon or mid-afternoon consistently bring in less people than games that kickoff at 6 p.m. or later.

The next home game for the Mean Green will be against in-state conference opponent Rice University on Halloween night at 6 p.m. The goal is to fill the student, alumni and the tail section on the north end zone.

Mean Green football fans in the student section cheer on the team at Apogee Stadium during the football season opener on Aug. 31. Feature photo by Ryan Vance / Staff Photographer

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