LSU will conclude the non-conference portion of its 2012 football schedule against FCS member Towson at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.
There are a couple of known facts about what is going to happen Saturday. First, LSU will win quite handily. Second, about 20,000 people who have tickets will not attend the game.
No-shows have been a problem at Tiger Stadium in recent seasons. Ticket scanners were installed at all gates of the stadium in 2007. Beginning with that season, LSU has played 38 games at home. The average number of no-shows for these games is slightly more than 14,000.
The number of people who do not show up doubles in non-conference games as opposed to Southeastern Conference contests. In this stretch, LSU is averaging a little more than 9,000 no-shows at SEC games and slightly less than 20,000 no-shows at non-conference games.
"We talk about the no-show situation," LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said. "This is a phenomenon all around the country. It's a concern. Big-screen televisions and HDTV at homes are a factor. That's why we are trying to continue to make improvements for the people at the stadium."
In the past six years, LSU has sold no fewer than 91,556 tickets for any home game. In fact, at least 92,000 tickets have been sold for 35 of the 38 games. However, LSU has never had 90,000 people in Tiger Stadium.
The two largest actual crowds occurred at games in 2007 - Florida (89,800) and Virginia Tech (89,200). LSU Assistant Athletic Director/Ticket Manager Brian Broussard indicated that the scanners miss no more than 1,000 tickets at any one game.
"Our no-shows have been about the same regardless of the year," Broussard said. "We haven't seen the drop-off in actual attendance like Florida and Auburn. Those schools have been on a little bit of downturn in some years."
Obviously, the fans are not showing up for the no-name non-SEC opponents. The 2007 Virginia Tech game was the only non-conference contest with less than 12,000 no-shows. The three games with 12,000 no-shows were UL-Lafayette in 2009, West Virginia in 2010 and Northwestern State in 2011.
There have been at-least 20,000 no-shows at eight non-SEC games - Appalachian State, North Texas, Tulane and Troy in 2008; Tulane and Louisiana Tech in 2009, UL-Monroe in 2010 and North Texas earlier this season.
"There are three levels of no-shows," Broussard said. "First, there is the number for games like Alabama. Second, there are the middle-of-the-road SEC teams like Kentucky and Mississippi State. Finally, there are the non-conference games."
There have been nine SEC games in which there were at least 10,000 no-shows - South Carolina in 2007, Mississippi State and Ole Miss in 2008, Vanderbilt and Auburn in 2009, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Ole Miss in 2010 and Kentucky in 2011. The largest number was about 16,000 for the Vanderbilt game.
"The student section is the largest area where people don't show up," Broussard said. "If the level of play is not attractive, they will not come. It is interesting to see that that the club level and the suites have the highest attendance level."
Day games have not meant an increased number of no-shows. Beginning in 2007, LSU has played 13 day games at Tiger Stadium. The average number of no-shows for that game is a little more than 11,000. Of course, some of the more important SEC games have been played in the afternoon.
"Everyone is aware of the no-show situation," Broussard said. "It is something the conference as a whole is aware of. Everyone has talked about it. It is just easier and easier for fans to stay at home."
Here are the paid and actual attendances for games played at Tiger Stadium since scanners were utilized at all gates. The actual figures are approximations.