New Sun Dome sparks surge in USF attendance

USF's men's team averaged 5,389 in announced attendance for home games, up 40 percent from last year.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF's men's team averaged 5,389 in announced attendance for home games, up 40 percent from last year.

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Even with a dropoff in wins on the men's side, USF's basketball teams saw significant increases in home attendance in 2012-13, thanks to the $35 million renovation of the Sun Dome.

USF's men's team averaged 5,389 in announced attendance for home games -- that's up 40 percent from last year, and up 27 percent from 2010-11, the last season the Bulls played in the Sun Dome. It's the highest average during USF's eight seasons in the Big East, beating out the 5,123 average from the 2007-08 season.

USF's women, who played most of their home games in the USF Rec Center last year, saw their announced home attendance more than double, from 578 in 2012-13 to 1,456, also the Bulls' highest average during the Big East era. This year's average is up 33 percent from the 1,089 the Bulls averaged in 2010-11, the last year they played in the Sun Dome.

USF's men saw enough of an increase that they weren't last in the Big East in average home attendance, with the 5,389 finishing ahead of Rutgers at 4,922. The Bulls had finished last in every year before 2012-13, getting within 53 of Rutgers in 2007-08. USF's women's attendance ranked ninth out of 15 schools, matching USF's highest women's attendance rank since joining the Big East.

The men's attendance gains came even as the Bulls struggled to find the same success as they did in reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2012-13. After going 12-6 in the Big East, the Bulls went 3-15 this season, with wins in their final two home games against DePaul and Connecticut. USF's women have played well, amassing a 21-9 record and tying for sixth in the Big East to put themselves in position for just the second NCAA Tournament appearance in the program's history.

USF will be challenged to keep its attendance numbers next season, when the Bulls move into a new conference without many of its biggest draws for opponents. On the men's side, five of the top eight home crowds came in games against teams that now won't be in USF's conference in 2013-14; another was Louisville, which will leave for the ACC after next season.

[Last modified: Monday, March 11, 2013 2:04pm]

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