It's become a buzzword with this series in recent years. Since returning to Denver in 2010, the RMS has averaged a paltry 59k tickets sold per contest, but many estimates have actual butts-in-seats attendance to be in the 40-45k range per game. Check out this video from '10, which was much better attended than last season:
That's a lot of empty seats! As to why they're empty, there's a myriad of reasons. The top three are probably:
- The cost is too damn high! - Ticket prices are puffed up to premium levels for a game that has never featured all that premium of a product. (I pay less than $23 per game to sit in decent seats in Folsom and see teams like USC, Oregon, and Stanford play the Buffs. I pay $55 for crappy seats in Denver, and have the option to "upgrade" for another $30).
- The venue sucks! - Sports Authority Field (formerly Invesco) is a soulless aluminum monstrosity, which does nothing but stifle any semblance of a college gameday experience. What's more, security is overly omnipresent, and the traffic and parking situations are a mess. Can anyone deny that the games had a better atmosphere in '04, '05, and '09?
- The teams are terrible! - The two programs have been pretty lousy over the past decade. They've combined for a 84-137 records since '02 (the last time either program was worth anything). That's a 38% winning percentage.
This series has become a drag on both programs, and needs to stop. The contract goes for another seven iterations after this one, but there has to be some way to back out of it. Maybe in future years, when both programs have completed their upgrades and theoretically improved, the state can revisit the idea of CU vs CSU. For now, however, it's just an ugly boil on the state's football profile that needs to be lanced.