ASU TAKES THE FIELD SATURDAY

The Razorbacks dined on cupcake Eastern Illinois to open the football season with a 55-20 win on a blistering hot day Saturday in Fayetteville and they announced the crowd at more than 63,000 in the newly expanded Razorback Stadium, which can seat 76,000. Was that the actual attendance?

The Wall Street Journal last week blew the lid off the widespread practice of announcing bigger college football crowds than actually attend. Schools have a variety of excuses — free students tickets, counting workers and so on. But the evidence is growing that football attendance has peaked and might be declining for a variety of reasons — cost, other interests, losing teams, weather and so on.

I’m curious if the story will prompt a re-examination of attendance practices. Will colleges announce actual attendance? I”ve asked UA if those figures will be readily available this year and if 63,000 was Saturday’s real count.

Thanks to Jim Harris for his Twitter coverage of the scene in Fayetteville yesterday. The $160 million stadium expansion (more than $200 million counting interest on bonds) got warm reviews, but attendance reminds that UA trustee David Pryor had questioned the expenditure and need. 63,000 is still likely more than the Hogs would have drawn in the smaller War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, which also lacks the high-income seats and suites in Fayetteville.

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Arkansas State University, another school noted for attendance inflation by the Wall Street Journal, debuted a stadium expansion yesterday with a 48-21 defeat of Southeast Missouri and an announced crowd of 20,184 in a 30,000-seat stadium. I’ve also asked ASU on plans for attendance announcements this year and whether the figure announced yesterday is more accurate than those compiled last year.