Where are the fans?
The crowd at the New Orleans Regional in the NCAA women’s tournament were dismal: 4,181 fans for the Oklahoma State-LSU game Saturday. That’s right. Barely 4,000 fans for a virtual LSU home game.
Think about that. There will be more fans in the Ford Center tonight for Tennessee-Notre Dame and Texas A&M-Duke than there were in New Orleans Arena for the beloved Bayou Bengals. It’s a darned good thing LSU made the regional, else there wouldn’t have been 1,000 fans at the game Saturday.
OSU showed well. Probably 300 fans; some Louisiana media guessed more OSU fans than North Carolina fans, and the Tar Heels are top-seeded and a traditional national power.
Bottom line: the women’s tournament has major problems. It already has scrapped the eight-site system for the first and second rounds. Next year, the NCAA women’s tournament goes back to 16 campus sites for the opening rounds. But when the regionals don’t draw well, who knows what is the problem.
Oklahoma City would acquit itself well with solid attendance despite no home team. If the Ford Center draws 8,000, 9,000 fans, it would become a runaway success story in the women’s game. OSU coach Kurt Budke estimated that OSU would have drawn over 10,000 fans if the Cowgirls had been placed in Oklahoma City, and I think he’s low. Of course, if OU had beaten Notre Dame and made it to OKC, the Ford Center would have been close to full for a semifinal against Tennessee.
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