An ugly truth about fading attendance figures for Gophers football home games was uncovered by a Star Tribune report that says far fewer people are at TCF Bank Stadium than the announced crowds suggest.
The report says TCF Bank Stadium was less than half full for five of seven home games this season with an average announced crowd of 37,914, which the Strib says is the lowest since 1992.
But it's far worse, with the report saying the actual average number of tickets scanned at the gates was 22,656.
The University of Minnesota isn't the only one facing attendance problems. According to the Wall Street Journal, attendance was down across the country in college football in 2017, with only 71 percent of announced crowds actually being at the game and scanning their tickets at the gates.
For Minnesota, the numbers obtained by the Strib suggest only 59 percent of the average announced crowd is actually at the game.
The Gophers finished 47th in average announced attendance for home games among all FBS teams in the country in 2017, according to NCAA data, and they ranked ninth among 14 Big Ten teams, finishing just ahead of Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Northwester and Rutgers.
Meanwhile, St. Thomas and St. John's remain staples for football fans in Minnesota. They finished first and second, respectively, in attendance at the D3 level in 2017, and WCCO's Al Schoch pointed out on Facebook that the Tommie-Johnnie game this season in Collegeville had more fans – 16,922 – than two Gophers Big Ten games:
- Gophers vs. Purdue (15,434)
- Gophers vs. Northwestern (15,160)
TCF Bank Stadium has a capacity of 50,805.
The Gophers are done with home games this season, and there season will be over on Saturday unless they beat the Badgers in Wisconsin to become bowl eligible.