Maverick Maniac's Musings

June 6, 2013

2013 Summit League Review–How did UNO stack up in their first year?

UNO, in just their 2nd year of D1 transition and first year playing in a conference had what has to be considered a fantastic season. UNO got solid, if not fantastic starts from their soccer teams and ended the year watching the baseball team win the school’s first Summit League title. Here’s a breakdown of how the school’s teams did throughout the year in comparison to other schools.

Fall Season

Type of Results Regular Season Regular Season Regular Season Championship Standings Championship Standings Average Finish
School Men’s Soccer Women’s Soccer Volleyball Men’s Cross Country Women’s Cross Country
Oakland 1st 1st T-3rd 4th 4th 2.6
South Dakota State N/A 5th T-5th 1st 3rd 3.5
North Dakota State N/A T-3rd T-5th T-6th 1st 3.75
Fort Wayne T-4th 2nd 2nd 8th 6th 4.4
South Dakota N/A 9th T-5th 2nd 2nd 4.5
IUPUI 6th 8th 1st 3rd 7th 5
Kansas City 2nd 6th T-3rd T-6th 9th 5.2
Western Illinois 3rd T-3rd 8th 5th 8th 5.4
Omaha T-4th 7th 9th N/A 5th 6.25

Winter Season

Type of Results Regular Season Regular Season Championship Standings Championship Standings Championship Standings Championship Standings Average Finish
School Men’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Men’s Swimming and Diving Women’s Swimming and Diving Men’s Indoor Track and Field Women’s Indoor Track and Field
South Dakota State T-1st 1st 2nd 4th 4th 5th 2.8
North Dakota State 3rd 7th N/A N/A 2nd 1st 3.25
IUPUI 9th 2nd 3rd 2nd N/A N/A 4
Omaha 6th T-5th N/A 3rd N/A 2nd 4
South Dakota T-7th 3rd 6th 5th 1st 3rd 4.2
Oakland 4th 9th 1st 1st 6th 6th 4.5
Western Illinois T-1st T-5th 5th 7th 5th 7th 5
Kansas City T-7th 8th N/A N/A 3rd 4th 5.5
Fort Wayne 5th 4th N/A N/A N/A 8th 5.7

Spring Season

Type of Results Regular Season Regular Season Regular Season Regular Season Championship Standings Championship Standings Championship Standings Championship Standings Average Finish
School Baseball Softball Men’s Tennis Women’s Tennis Men’s Golf Women’s Golf Men’s Outdoor T&F Women’s Outdoor T&F
NDSU 4th 1st N/A N/A 5th 1st 1st 1st 2.2
Kansas City N/A 5th 1st 2nd 1st 2nd 4th 5th 2.9
South Dakota N/A 4th N/A 4th 2nd 9th 2nd 2nd 3.8
SDSU 2nd 8th 2nd 3rd 3rd 7th 3rd 4th 4
Omaha 1st 2nd 6th 6th 8th 4th N/A 3rd 4.3
Fort Wayne 6th 3rd 3rd 1st 9th 8th N/A 8th 5.4
Western Illinois 5th 6th 4th 8th 4th 5th 5th 7th 5.5
Oakland 3rd 9th N/A 5th 6th 6th 6th 6th 5.9
IUPUI N/A 7th 5th 7th 7th 3rd 7th 9th 6.4

Overall Averages

School Fall  Average Fall Sports Winter Average Winter Sports Spring Average Spring Sports Total Sports Average Finish
NDSU 3.75 4 3.25 4 2.2 6 14 2.93
SDSU 3.5 4 2.8 6 4 8 18 3.5
South Dakota 4.5 4 4.2 6 3.8 6 16 4.13
Kansas City 5.2 5 5.5 4 2.9 7 16 4.25
Oakland 2.6 5 4.5 6 5.9 7 18 4.5
Omaha 6.25 4 4 4 4.3 7 15 4.73
Fort Wayne 4.4 5 5.7 3 5.4 7 15 5.13
Western Illinois 5.4 5 5 6 5.5 8 19 5.32
IUPUI 5 5 4 4 6.4 7 16 5.38

The tale of the tape is kind of interesting here. Knowing that Kansas City and Oakland won’t be around next year of the remaining seven schools you can see where the balance of power definitely is, the Dakotas. North Dakota State seems to be the premier program in the league right now with South Dakota State their closest competitor. It’s a bit of a further drop to South Dakota who was never spectacular as their best average was only 3.8 in the spring. they were however consistent with their worst average being only 4.5 in the fall.

Omaha has to feel fairly good about how their first year went. They were a bit off the pace in the fall as their 6.25 average was the 2nd worst of any school for any season (IUPUI had a 6.4 average in the spring) but they were much stronger in the winter and the spring as they got their season long average down to 4.73.

Historical Comparison

I wondered how UNO stacked up compared to the last few schools to move into the Summit. Now one thing to note here is that Fort Wayne began their transition in 2001, NDSU and SDSU began in 2004, and South Dakota began in 2008. None of the schools went through the kind of transition UNO is dealing with where they will spend 3 years competing in the Summit League while not being eligible for the postseason. All were able to build their programs much more before their first Summit competition. So how does UNO stack up in terms of average finish?

School Fall  Average Fall Sports Winter Average Winter Sports Spring Average Spring Sports Total Sports Average Finish
NDSU 2007-08 4.75 4 2.25 4 3.8 6 14 3.64
SDSU 2007-08 2.75 4 4.5 6 4.8 8 18 4.22
Omaha 2012-13 6.25 4 4 4 4.3 7 15 4.73
South Dakota 2011-12 6.25 4 4 6 5.3 6 16 5.06
Fort Wayne 2007-08 5.6 5 6 3 5.9 7 15 5.8

Few things of note… the Summit League was only 9 teams this year as opposed to 10 last year and 10 in 2007-08. Was that an advantage to Omaha? Probably slightly. But in that 2007-08 season there were only 7 returning members as three new members joined. So that was certainly an advantage for NDSU, SDSU and Fort Wayne.

NDSU had an amazing first year in the Summit and were extremely competitive. They stand out from the pack in this table. I think the case could be made though that Omaha’s season was the 2nd best of these five. Yes they were a half spot worse on average than SDSU five years ago, but that season for SDSU came in their last season of transition as opposed to Omaha’s second. I think this seems to show the future is very bright for UNO.

March 13, 2013

A Look at Omaha’s Attendance–2012-13 Fall and Winter Sports

With the winter sports done with home competition and the spring sports just getting going I figured now is a good time to take a look at Omaha’s attendance this year and see how they’ve done to years past. I’ll be interested to see just how big a boost Omaha gets from going D1 and from the new marketing agreement with Nelligan Sports Marketing.

And a little warning before we get into this… apparently only hockey/men’s basketball are exact numbers… the rest are estimates. Still I think the trends are noticeable and things can be drawn from this.

Hockey

Omaha’s average attendance was off 8% from last year, the second straight year of dipping attendance. That despite having a team that was ranked much of the year and in contention for the WCHA title until late.

One big reason: less freebies this year as has been widely noted on twitter and message boards. Omaha probably made just as much money off of the season despite the drop in attendance. Also with Creighton being so good there was not as much attention on the hockey team as there might be in other years.

Still it’s less butts in the seats as total attendance was the lowest it’s been since 2006-07. A lot of this is due to no home games in the postseason, but total attendance was also off 11,000 from last year in same number of games. The Mavericks also had their lowest “high attendance” since the 2009-10 season, again probably due to less cheap/free tickets out there. It will be interesting to see how this trend goes over the next few years as things stabilize.

Year # of Games Avg. Attendance % Change Conf. Games Average Total Attendance High Attendance Low Attendance
2012-13 18 7,233 -8% 7,756 130,200 13,650 3,921
2011-12 18 7,864 -2% 8,368 141,544 16,138 3,831
2010-11 20 7,994 +16% 8,552 159,886 15,137 4,793
2009-10 21 6,866 +10% 6,948 144,181 13,417 4,028
2008-09 21 6,216 -1% 6,664 130,528 10,111 4,328
2007-08 21 6,305 N/A 6,478 132,402 10,598 3,176

Men’s Basketball

On the other hand this is really good. Men’s Basketball saw good progress in all areas for the 2nd straight year. Lots of room to grow, but it’s on the right path. Still amazing how far it dropped off from 2007-08 to 2010-11. It was a nice time back then in the NCC. MIAA days were not good for basketball attendance.

Year # of Games Avg. Attendance % Change Conf. Games Average Total Attendance High Attendance Low Attendance
2012-13 13 1,261 +41% 1,248 16,392 2,656 642
2011-12 11 894 +51% N/A 9,833 1,949 179
2010-11 14* 592 -18% 620 7,104 1,328 375
2009-10 14 724 +10% 791 10,131 1,568 215
2008-09 12 653 -29% 706 7,838 915 200
2007-08 16 919 N/A 1,056 14,709 1,303 300

* – 2 games had no attendance listed so they were removed from the averages.

Men’s Soccer

In only its second year men’s soccer saw a huge drop in attendance. A lot of that is explained by the fact that last year’s big numbers were due to the first ever game (against a top 25 school to boot) and a special game at Werner Park. Still, a conference game average of 129 is really poor and there needs to be improvement with this sport. Hopefully playing games at Al F. Caniglia Field will help next year.

Year # of Games Avg. Attendance % Change Conf. Games Average Total Attendance High Attendance Low Attendance
2012 5 248 -78% 129 1,241 442 111
2011 3 1,130 N/A N/A 3,391 1,647 256

Volleyball

First off all realize that last year’s numbers are a bit weird. Omaha did host a tournament in which they played four games on September 2nd and 3rd. No attendance was recorded so I’ve left those out of the average. Regardless, Omaha drew 81% of this year’s total in just two games last year. Remarkable drop-off this year when Omaha got only 823 for Syracuse (compared to 2,429 for Kansas City and 1,208 for South Dakota in 2011). On a positive in terms of comparing it to 2010, Omaha did a very good job increasing total attendance and average attendance across all games and conference games. I wonder how many of those 3600+ tickets in 2011 were free… 

Year # of Games Avg. Attendance % Change Conf. Games Average Total Attendance High Attendance Low Attendance
2012 10 450 -75% 387 4,502 823 193
2011 6* 1,819 +417% N/A 3,637 2,429 1,208
2010 14^ 352 -9% 345 4,225 436 297
2009 18 385 -20% 481 6,942 925 220
2008 16 480 -25% 491 7,680 918 284
2007 11 640 N/A 610 7,042 1,436 421

* – 6 games included four in a tournament with no recorded attendance. Not included in average.
^ – 14 games included two in a tournament with no recorded attendance. Not included in average

Women’s Basketball

Omaha’s seen some improvement over the last there years in terms of conference attendance, but the overall average has now dipped slightly in three straight season despite the move to D1 and better competition. It should be noted that until the 2010-11 season Omaha was playing a lot of women’s games as part of double-headers with men’s games. The women’s attendance would be taken sometime during the women’s game and probably included some people mostly showing up early for the men’s game. Still… these people were watching the women’s games and should be considered potential fans.

To not be able to increase attendance at all over the last two years is disappointing with the great stars Omaha had in Paige Frauendorfer and Jamie Nash. Amazing to look back a few season and see Omaha is still well off what they averaged in the final NCC season.

Year # of Games Avg. Attendance % Change Conf. Games Average Total Attendance High Attendance Low Attendance
2012-13 17 354 -5% 413 6,023 651 157
2011-12 12 373 -4% N/A 4,477 817 115
2010-11 13 387 -2% 395 5,029 589 212
2009-10 15 394 +24% 462 5,910 1,275 166
2008-09 15 319 -33% 403 4,786 525 91
2007-08 18 478 N/A 708 8,605 1,050 130

Women’s Soccer

Of Omaha’s 2,180 total fans this year a whopping 60% were from the Creighton and Iowa State games in the first weeks of the season. Disappointing to see attendance drop off on average from last year despite playing in a conference and having nearly twice as many games. Interesting to see that conference games have been worse and worse attended every year since 2007.

Year # of Games Avg. Attendance % Change Conf. Games Average Total Attendance High Attendance Low Attendance
2012 8 272 -10% 117 2180 672 104
2011 3 302 +113% N/A 905 604 137
2010 8 142 -1% 142 1133 316 62
2009 8 143 -36% 143 1146 219 72
2008 10 223 -26% 225 2227 307 122
2007 8 300 N/A 317 2400 400 200

All-in-all this is not a pretty picture for UNO Athletics. There is significant work to be done to get fan support back to the levels of the NCC days in many sports. Conference games in several sports show no more interest than non-conference games, so fans aren’t connecting yet with the regular opponents in Omaha’s new league. The luster from the D1 move is wearing off already and the Summit League did nothing to boost attendance in most sports as only one sport showed improvement from non-conference to conference games (Women’s Basketball).

It’s going to be a challenge to raise attendance across all sports. It’s an issue of marketing, ticketing, information, social media, all of it. There is no magic bullet here but there are also numerous things that can be done. Omaha clearly has the potential to have larger fan bases for all of their sports, it’s just about reaching them and getting those fans there.

At the very least it’s disappointing to see a drop in attendance over the last year. I thought with the move to D1, strong schedules with conference opponents, and the new marketing firm that things would look really good. I was really surprised to see most sports with lower average attendance  and while there are various reasons it’s not like you can look at these numbers and say it’s been a year of growth on the fan side.

Feel free to share any thoughts/ideas you may have in the comments below. I know personally I need to do a better job at trying to get to more games and get friends going with me, so I think most of us can take that suggestion to heart :).

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