The UCLA Football program boasts various traits, both positive and less favorable. One of the latter points often discussed is the lack of turnout at the Rose Bowl during UCLA’s home games. Let’s delve into this issue and see what’s behind it.
Attendance Woes: A Closer Look
UCLA’s Rose Bowl stadium, with a modern capacity of 92,542, has been seeing significantly lower attendance numbers. The figures speak for themselves:
- 2019: 43,848
- 2020: Impacted by COVID-19
- 2021: 45,818
- 2022: 41,593
In each case, the attendance has fallen below half of the stadium’s capacity. This raises the question: Why is UCLA struggling to attract fans?
Analyzing the Factors
Ben Bolch, a columnist at The Los Angeles Times, outlined 12 crucial steps for UCLA’s success in the Pac-12 during its farewell season. Among these steps, a key focus is on filling up the Rose Bowl with more fans. Bolch noted that, except for the COVID-19 affected year, this is the worst stretch of attendance for UCLA Football since the Rose Bowl became the Bruins’ official home field in 1982.
A large ‘UCLA’ tarp has been placed on the north end of the stadium to cover empty seats, aiming to enhance the stadium’s visual appeal. While this move aims to improve aesthetics, it remains a blemish on the overall stadium experience.
The Multi-Layered Reasons
The drop in attendance can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, apathy plays a significant role. Despite UCLA’s reputation as an esteemed academic and athletic institution, the football program’s performance has been inconsistent over the past couple of decades.
Rising ticket prices amid economic fluctuations have also deterred potential attendees. Los Angeles, with its plethora of entertainment options, offers more affordable alternatives for many. Additionally, while the Rose Bowl is a picturesque venue, entering and exiting it can be a time-consuming hassle. The prospect of spending 30-45 minutes entering the parking lot and potentially an hour leaving afterward is a deterrent for many.
Challenges Beyond the Stadium
The off-campus Rose Bowl stadium poses challenges in terms of school spirit. Accessing the stadium from campus, especially for students without cars, can be inconvenient. Moreover, efforts to promote UCLA Football from the administration seem outdated and lackluster.
All these factors combined have led to a decline in attendance. However, there’s hope for improvement. Coach Chip Kelly anticipates a turnaround in 2023. The team’s talent, including freshman QB Dante Moore and transfer WR J. Michael Sturdivant, could invigorate the fan base and revitalize the UCLA Football experience.