New ticketing data has highlighted discrepancies in US college American football team Alabama’s reported attendance numbers, AL.com reports after receiving spreadsheets as part of a public records request.
Over six seasons from 2014 to now, ticket scans represented 78 per cent of the attendance number reported for the team’s 56 home games at the 101,821-capacity Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne said ticket scanning was an “inexact science” that was just one of a number of ways the school gauges crowds. Byrne and associate AD for ticketing, Chris Besanceney, estimated there is a 10 per cent miss rate in the ticket-scanning process before Alabama home games.
Byrne told AL.com: “Because when you get backed up, the gate workers are doing the best they can, but you have 20 people in the line and they’re trying to get them through.”
A 2019 game against LSU, which had an exact 10 per cent disparity between scans and attendance, was one of three games to line up with Bryne’s estimate, which is a low proportion of the 56 dates studied.
The lowest percentage was last year when 52 per cent of an announced sellout saw the team defeat Western Carolina.
Alabama’s declining attendance figures have lined up with its lower percentage of tickets scanned. In 2014, it reported an average season attendance of 83,381 with 82 per cent of that number being ticket scans. In 2019, Alabama reported an average attendance of 70,334 with ticket scans accounting for 70 per cent of reported attendance.
Misreporting is not unique to Alabama, as a 2017 by the Wall Street Journal highlighted. For that year, the nationwide scans represented 71 per cent of total attendance universities reported in their box scores and to the NCAA. Coastal Carolina had the widest gap with 17 per cent of its announced attendance having tickets scanned, the newspaper reported.