Reduced Capacity Exactly What ASU Needs
By William Boor
Whether it's 100,000-plus seat stadiums, the overwhelming video screen in Dallas or the facilities in Eugene, Ore., we live in an era where the bigger and more elaborate something is, the more valuable we believe it to be.
However, just as everyone else seemingly is making things bigger, Arizona State recently revealed a stadium renovation that will reduce capacity from 71,706 to roughly 60,000.
The Sun Devils are making a plethora of other changes to their stadium, including a student lounge, air conditioned club area, new restrooms and more concessions.
“Sun Devil Stadium is the cornerstone of the legacy and tradition of Arizona State football,” ASU coach Todd Graham said in a press release. “It was important to keep intact that same tunnel that Pat Tillman ran onto the field from on game day. This venue will blend that tradition with all the elements of a top-tier facility and put us at the top of the league.”
But the drop in attendance is an interesting tidbit.
While bigger may be better for some, that is not the case for the Sun Devils. Getting rid of approximately 11,000 seats in Tempe makes perfect sense and is exactly what was necessary.
Some may argue that fewer seats would reduce revenue and crowd noise, but those that have followed the Sun Devils in recent years know that won't be the case.
With a mammoth 71,706 capacity, ASU has not been able to fill their stadium on a consistent basis. They weren't generating any revenue for those seats anyway.
There were eight games — including the Pac-12 championship game — played at Sun Devil Stadium in 2013. Only three times was the reported attendance higher than 65,000.
In 2012, there were six home games, and only one — a Thursday night contest against No. 2 Oregon — drew more than 60,000.
In fact, when those games that drew a large crowd come around again, the reduced capacity will allow the Sun Devils to charge more for tickets and the revenue that may have been “lost” can be recovered.
As far as crowd noise is concerned, fewer seats means fewer gaps between fans. The more intimate setting could actually generate a bit more noise as all the fans will be lumped a bit closer together.
Making a stadium smaller may be a bit contradictory to modern era thinking and appeals, but in ASU's case it seems like a no-brainer.
Had the Sun Devils been selling out every game, this would have been a completely different story, but they weren't.
With fewer available seats, the games will appear fuller on TV, and if Todd Graham keeps the Sun Devils trending in an upward direction, those 60,000 seats will be in high demand.
As it turns out, bigger is not always better, and that's exactly the way ASU wants it to be.