BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In the first year of moving its football championship and basketball tournament to Houston, the Southwestern Athletic Conference announced today that both events received a significant increase in attendance.
The football championship and basketball tournament combined, including events sponsored by the SWAC during the week, totaled 87,492 in attendance. The basketball tournament numbers increased 23 percent from the previous year reaching 45,390. The attendance from the tournament games totaled 33,836, receiving an increase of more than 12,000 from last year.
In regards to the economic impact on the Houston metropolitan area, the football championship game was estimated at $44 million and the basketball tournament at more than $3.5 million. Toyota became the title sponsor for the football championship game and basketball tournament in 2012.
The football championship game attendance jumped into the record books ranking third all time at 38,985. The attendance ranked 29 out of 44 NCAA Division I FBS and FCS combined conference championships and bowl games. For the FCS games attended across the nation in 2013, it ranked sixth overall, joining five other SWAC match ups listed in the top 12.
“We are excited about the increase in attendance, but we (SWAC) have to credit our fans for supporting our football championship and basketball tournament’s move to Houston,” said SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp. “We believed moving the basketball tournament to the Toyota Center and relocating the football championship game to NRG Stadium (formerly Reliant Stadium), was in the best interest of our conference body, student-athletes and fans. We are anticipating more support next year as a result of our fans embracing the professional venues and their enthusiasm for SWAC championships.”
The SWAC finished number one in the FCS in average football attendance per game with 12,415 with a total of 682,841. The total includes conference member home games and HBCU Classics featuring league match ups.
The SWAC has now held the highest per game average in attendance overall for 34 of the last 35 years including eight consecutive. Alabama State and Alabama A&M’s match up in the Magic City Classic was first among FCS games attended in 2013 while Southern’s average home attendance (20,107) ranked first in the league and eighth nationally among mid-major schools.
A complete list of football attendance rankings among SWAC members, FCS games and FBS Bowl and Championship games are listed on www.swac.org.