UCLA Basketball: Declining Attendance - Sign of Settling for Mediocrity

Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

-Bumped. BN Eds.

We had the fan post about UCLA's subpar attendance in comparison to our national peers and in comparison to our conference brethren.

One comment late in the thread lists the average attendance year by year from 1988 to the present. Some of the figures (at random) are 7,854 in 1988, 10,895 in 1994, 9,332 in 2004, and 9,549 in 2013. The high mark was 11,872 in 1996 (year after the national championship), and the low mark was 7,759 in 2011.

This person concluded that "UCLA fans generally don't come out in big numbers for basketball games..." and also suggested that we don't need 13,800 seats in OPUG- somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 would be fine most years.

The commenter decided not to go back before 1988, because "I got bored". The implicit assumption would appear to be that going back further would simply show more of the same.

I have copied my reply below.

Here are the attendance figures from 1970 forward, from a listing of top 25 attendance figures by year.

1970- 12,293 (#7 in the country)
1971- 12,625 (#7 in the country)
1973- 12, 515 (#10 in the country)
1974- 12, 385 (#6 in the country)
1975- 12, 384 (#10 in the country)
1976- 12, 047 (#7 in the country)
1978- 11,333 (#19 in the country)
1979- 11,780 (#19 in the country)
1980- 11,218 (#19 in the country)
1981- 11,573 (#20 in the country)
1982- 10,961 (#18 in the country)
1983- 10,851 (#21 in the country)

That was the last year that UCLA was in the top 25 in attendance.

What was the most common factor in the years above? Was it national championships? No. Was it Coach Wooden? No. Was it Athletic Director J.D. Morgan? Yes.

Coach Wooden was obviously the primary driver of the success of UCLA basketball, and he built a program without peers. But the success of the program, in terms of filling the seats, continued after his retirement and after the # of banners stopped growing. J.D. himself retired in 1979, due to failing health. He was succeeded by his top assistant, Robert Fischer for 3 years.

Then came Peter Dalis. The Bruins hired from within with Dalis, choosing the director of cultural and recreational affairs. When you hire a bureaucrat, you get a bureaucrat.

And we have not been seen in the top 25 attendance figures since.

A lot of this has to do with other universities building bigger arenas, so that even if Pauley was full, we might not make the top 25. But a lot of it also has to do with the erosion of the program under the "leadership" of Peter Dalis and Doughnut Dan.

When you cherry pick the last 25 years, you are proving that Morgan Center has become Moron Center. You aren’t proving that we don’t need as many seats in Pauley.

Just go back to when Morgan Center was competent. And then ask if an 11,000 seat arena would be fine.

It is absolutely appalling to me that our fans would think that our history since 1988 should be the determinant of acceptable results, in terms of supervising the basketball program.

I know that the Wooden years and the J.D. Morgan years are fading further and further into the rear view mirror. But don't think for one second that whatever has happened in the Peter Dalis and Doughnut years should be considered normal.

Anybody that does that is playing right into Doughnut's hands, when he says his top priority is to "manage expectations."

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.

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