THE SEASON OPENER: This photo was taken 20 minutes before game time at the expanded Razorback Stadium. Jim Harris

The University of Arkansas has responded to my request for a count on scanned tickets Saturday at the Razorback’s football opener against Eastern Illinois. UPDATE: Figures in  from Arkansas State University. At both campuses, the ticket count was far below the announced attendance.

As I noted Sunday, UA and ASU were prominent in last week’s Wall Street Journal story about attendance inflation at college football games, part of a national decline in game attendance. Colleges count sold, but unused tickets and stadium workers, as well as unticketed attendees. Also some colleges’ policies of free student admission don’t allow accurate counts of actual attendance. But fans have observed for years that “announced” attendance has often been far greater than the actual number in seats.


So, I asked if attendance policies would change this year  and whether the announced attendance of 63,000 at the debut of the renovated 76,000-seat Razorback stadium was a count of actual attendance. Kevin Trainor, associate athletic director, responded:

Consistent with many universities around the nation, the University of Arkansas announces an official attendance, reflective of tickets allotted, non-credentialed personnel, including law enforcement officers and student-athletes, and other credentialed individuals, including members of the media and working personnel. The official attendance has been represented as such and not as an actual attendance based on scans.

As a point of clarification, scanned numbers do not include non-ticketed individuals in attendance. In addition, scanned numbers may vary based on a number of factors including user/equipment error. As you may know, this year we introduced a new self-scanning system to help make fans entry into the stadium more efficient.

The UA did not provide a scanned ticket count on Saturday as part of the official box score. However, I am happy to provide the scanned number per your request. The scanned total – which once again doesn’t include all individuals in attendance for Saturday’s game vs. Eastern Illinois – was 44,003. At this time, a decision has not been made on whether the number of tickets scanned will be added to the box score for each game.

UPDATE: ASU also unveiled a stadium expansion   renovation Saturday and announced the attendance of 20,184 in the 30,000-seat stadium. ASU Vice President Jeff Hankins said this afternoon:


The number of seat tickets outstanding for the game, which includes sold and comp seats but excludes students, was 12,955. The scanned ticket count during the game was 8,375.

… we don’t believe the scanner count to be a reliable, credible or meaningful number. In fact, we have confirmed scanner malfunctions and user error at Saturday’s game. The scanned tickets report does not include those without tickets — students, pass holders, band, spirit squads, teams, media, game-day personnel, etc.

I draw no conclusions from the openers. It was a hot Labor Day weekend and both teams faced lesser opponents.

I’m just old-fashioned. Fewer games, beginning later in the fall, with a concentration on traditional rivals and occasional marquee visitors, make a more appealing package to me. But the cost of big-time football and the demands of ESPN that produce the big-dollar TV make me hopelessly outdated.