In 1980, the capacity of eight-year-old Indian Stadium at Arkansas State University was enlarged to 18,000, an increase of around 2,000 seats. When A-State declared Division I-A status in 1991, the stadium capacity was substantially bumped to 30,708 to meet capacity requirements. The capacity has fluctuated by a couple hundred since then, thanks to numerous renovations. The stadium has never seen a sold out game. It came closest in 2012 against Middle Tennessee, falling about 200 short.
A-State didn’t achieve a sellout in 2015 when Missouri paid a visit, nor when the #24 ranked Tigers dropped by in 2004. The stadium didn’t fill for Louisville in 2010 or Eli Manning and Ole Miss in 2001. It seems apparent to me that achieving a sellout for a football game is not mandated in Arkansas State’s destiny.
And that’s fine. More than fine. Finer than fine. Why do we keep beating ourselves up about it? With the advent of the web streaming, flat screen TVs and comprehensive broadcast packages, the odds of ever filling up Centennial Bank Stadium have been even further reduced. It’s okay. It’s happening to everyone.
With that, I propose a radical plan: let’s reduce the capacity of Centennial Bank Stadium. Start by ripping out the upper deck of Aluminum City. Just ball it up and take it to the recycling center.
To make such a suggestion ten (even five) years ago would have been derided as an admission of defeat – a signal that we simply didn’t belong; couldn’t compete. However, crowd size is no longer a standard to measure the success of a program. People are still passionate about college football, but the method by which the choose to observe it is now dictated by their own terms. If you want to point fingers, look to the greed that surrounds college football. You wanted the meaty TV contracts. Congratulations, we’re watching the games on TV.
Roll with it, Arkansas State. Reduce & Spruce. Invest in more stadium seating and novel food offerings. We don’t even have to go first – Northwestern is embracing the Smalldium. The new Ryan Field promises to “replace the existing stadium’s benches with comfortable seats and include high-tech scoreboards and concession stands supplied by local restaurants.” Sounds like heaven.
Compress Centennial Bank Stadium. I think 25,000 sounds like a fine number of seats. Boost the wifi for those who prefer to continue their tailgate outside of stadium. It’s all good. It’s how we roll now. Get used to it.
Photo Credit: Mine