Stadium Expansion: Part 1 – Capacity

In case you missed the news, Phase IV of the renovations to NMCMS is scheduled to begin this year and be completed by 2015. These renovations include HD video boards, a new media center, new locker rooms, club level seating (more on that in another post), and a new recruiting center. But what I want to concentrate on first and foremost is this:

We’re going to see a capacity increase to 40,000 by 2015

According to the 2003 media guide, NMCMS had a seating capacity of 30,000. That was expanded to 34,000 for the 2004 season. With the 40,000 seats by 2015, that means we’ll have seen a 33% increase in seating, not to mention the other significant upgrades around the facility

First, I’d like to address the notion that this is in order to meet some sort of minimum the Big East has. This is incorrect as such a minimum does not exist. But we certainly are on the small size of the current and future members

SDSU 70,561 Qualcomm Stadium
Temple 68,532 Lincoln Financial Field
USF 65,857 Raymond James Stadium
Memphis 62,380  
Louisville 56,000  
Rutgers 52,454  
UCF 45,301  
Connecticut 40,000  
Boise 37,000  
Cincinnati 35,097  
Navy 34,000 Expanding to 40,000 by 2015
Houston 32,000 New 40k Stadium in 2014
SMU 32,000  

Adding another 6,000 seats to NMCMS would put Navy on pretty even terms with the conference average. Three of the schools on the list play in pro stadiums, so we really can’t look at them as a part of the average. Houston is building a new stadium that will seat 40,000 when it’s finished in 2014. So if we exclude the former and adjust for the latter, the average capacity of members of the Big East in 2015 is going to be just a hair over 44,000.

Since the 2004 renovations, the lowest attended game was in 2004 against Northeastern. Just 25,115 people showed up to watch the second game of what was bound to be a wonderful 10-2 season. All told, that was one of only 6 games since 2004 that failed to break the 30k mark.

By comparison, there have been SEVENTEEN games at NMCMS where we have been above capacity. The record was set in the 2008 season when Pitt came to town. 37,970 people jammed in that day, putting attendance at 112% of capacity. Air Force routinely brings massive crowds, averaging 109% capacity. Rutgers, a future Big East foe, has brought an average of 36,118 to the three games they’ve played at NMCMS (106%).

Across all 42 games played at NMCMS since expansion, Navy has averaged 33,109 people per game, which is 97% of full capacity. In 2011, Navy was #9 in the country for attendance by percent of capacity with 101.8%. Air Force, ECU, and Delaware were all over-capacity sellouts while Troy and Southern Miss each fell just a few hundred tickets shy of capacity, both having 98% attendance.

To put it relative to the greater college football universe, the following schools had higher capacity attendance in 2011 than Navy:

1. Oregon
2. TCU
3. Nebraska
4. Texas A&M
5. Oklahoma
6. Texas Tech
7. Ohio State
8. Michigan

That’s it. Not bad company to keep.

Just to parse the attendance a little more, since 2004 Navy’s had:

• 17 games over capacity. That’s 40% of all games.
• 9 games in the 95-100% range. Yep – 62% of all games have been over 95% full.
• 7 more in the 90-95% range. That’s 79% of games with at least 30,600 people attending.

So the demand has been there. But it’s not just as easy as adding seats and watching the dough roll in. In part 2, we’ll look at the challenges of getting those attendance numbers as well as the finances behind them.

2 thoughts on “Stadium Expansion: Part 1 – Capacity

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