Boosting UNM football fan attendance

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ALBUQUERQUE — During the last few years, the University of New Mexico has struggled with fan attendance. Besides the New Mexico State game  — which drew nearly 28,500 fans last year — University Stadium averaged just 14,000 fans a game last season. 

This year, the Lobos are starting to see a surge in ticket sales ahead of their season opener against Maine this Saturday.

“Last year we sold 6,700 tickets season tickets. This year we are at 94%; resale we’re at 6,300,” UNM football Head Coach Danny Gonzales said. “We’re at about 10,000 tickets out, about 8,000 tickets out for what I think around 10 to 15, 16,000 tickets, hopefully, we get to 20 for Saturday.”  

As ticket sales are being resurrected, in order to truly fill more seats, Coach Gonzales believes it starts with the students.

“If we can create an environment with the student body, then that stuff becomes contagious for our entire student body,” Gonzales said.

While students can help spread the fan culture, winning games is just as important for attracting more fans.

“Now winning, obviously creates the buzz and environment and gets more people to come,” Gonzales said.

UNM’s Athletic Department has similar thoughts when it comes to growing a new fan culture.

“If our football team can play well and if we can show them a good time, the fans a good time while they’re here, we hope they come back and that the attendance will grow,” David Williams, DeputyAhletic Director said.

The Lobos’ season begins with a three-game home stand, and if the team can start off the season strong, Coach Gonzales expects fans to start filling up the stands. 

“Now, if we have success the first two weeks, I will be highly, highly disappointed, and I’ll say it now and people can crucify me but I will be highly disappointed in the City of Albuquerque if the game against UTEP isn’t sold out,” Gonzales said.

For Gonzales, this will be the first year without COVID restrictions having a major impact on his athletes, which allows the potential for larger attendance rates this season.