St. Cloud State University (SCSU) is home to the Huskies and to the cardinal and black. St. Cloud State Athletics hosts 18 different varsity sports programs including division I men’s and women’s hockey, and division II men’s and women’s basketball, football, volleyball, and soccer. Husky Athletics, a staple of the central Minnesota culture, continues to be a main attraction for fans throughout the city of St. Cloud and surrounding areas. Husky Athletics also plays a major role in the student lifestyle at St. Cloud State. From “sieving” at the opposing goalie to enjoying the football tradition alongside the beautiful Mississippi River, students and fans serve as an essential factor to the success of Husky Athletics. In recent years however, much concern over budget costs have forced major cuts to SCSU athletics, namely the discontinuing of men’s and women’s tennis, women’s Nordic skiing, men’s cross-country and men’s indoor/outdoor track and field in 2016. As reported in the Star Tribune in March 2016, “[St. Cloud State] is dealing with falling enrollment and nagging deficits. SCSU enrollment stands at 15,461, down from 18,650 in the fall of 2010 … It is currently battling a $6 million budget gap.”
Athletic ticket sales and attendance for the major sports play a big role in attracting prospective students and eliminating the budget gap. This study mainly focuses on analyzing recent attendance trends for athletic events and better developing the SCSU Athletic, Student Life & Development (SLD), and Campus Involvement (DCI) Departments’ understanding of the rates and frequencies students and fans are attending such events. This analysis examines the role factors such as opponent, weather, and other events play in both overall and student attendance levels. In addition, through a full breakdown of student attendance and registration records, this analysis compares the profiles of students who attend and do not attend athletic events. Understanding which student attributes are associated with higher attendance levels influences predicting which students are likely to attend events. Altogether, this analysis provides strategic insights to effectively enhance current university advertising and marketing strategies aimed to acquire higher levels of student attendance in the future. The most important and influential insights from the analysis are:
- Soccer, volleyball, and men’s and women’s hockey average tickets sold per event increased since the 2012 – 2013 season.
- Average student attendance per event has declined for all sports since the 2014 – 2015 season.
- Overall fan attendance is not strongly correlated to student attendance.
- Only 25 percent of all undergraduate students attend an athletic event during the semester.
- Certain opponents affect both overall fan and student attendance for men’s hockey and men’s & women’s basketball games.
- Rain and snow decrease student attendance for all sports.
- The variables with the biggest effects on the probability a student will attend an event are whether a student attended an event the previous semester and whether he/she lived on campus during his/her first term.
These insights will help influence important decisions regarding the continual improvement in attendance levels at St. Cloud State University athletic events.
Klein, Joel, "Athletic Event Attendance Breakdown" (2018). SCSU Data. 3.