/Where are the Falcon faithful? 
Central State Bank Arena. Photo by Britton Wade, Photography editor.

Where are the Falcon faithful? 

By Sarah Turner, Sports editor 

It’s gameday in Central Alabama, a feeling like no other for student-athletes across the country. 

Donning purple and gold, the Falcons will take to the court to compete for their university at the highest level. 

But it can be disheartening for Montevallo’s athletes to look around Central State Bank Arena and only see 300 faces in an arena built for 2,000.  

More than 500 student-athletes call Montevallo home, but most teams won’t even have that many fans at their games or events.  

In the 2023-24 season, both men’s and women’s basketball teams averaged around 290 attendees per game. 

Varsity Field, the home of men’s and women’s soccer has a capacity of 400, and only hosted around 145 spectators on average during the 2023 season.  

These relatively low attendance numbers, beg the question: Where are the Falcon faithful? 

With a student body of nearly 2,200, it might be a big ask to “Pack the SAC” full for all four teams that use the arena.  

Wyatt Hall, the university’s Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Communications, says there just isn’t quite as much interest in athletics at the University of Montevallo as there might be at other schools. 

In a survey sent out to Montevallo students, including both student-athletes and non-student-athletes, 45% of respondents said they had attended between zero and five athletic events during their time at the university.  

“We always want to do what we can to increase awareness and let people know about games,” said Hall, “and we’re always continuing to try to do different things to get that.” 

Hall says that the athletic department tries to partner with other campus groups in order to encourage more people to attend the events.  

Giveaways and other special events were also important in this year’s numbers as well. 

The SAC arena was officially renamed to Central State Bank Arena on Feb. 1 after the university reached a 10-Year Naming Rights Agreement. 

The Feb. 1 basketball games featured raffles, trivia and half-court shot contests, with prizes including CSB gear, pricey coolers and Amazon gift cards. 

This night had a higher than average attendance, at 353 and 342 for the men and women, respectively, even though only 16% of those surveyed said they were more likely to attend an event if they were aware of giveaways or prizes at said event. 

“Pack the SAC” and “Sea of Purple” games have been important promotions for the athletic department across all sports in recent years.  

For these games, other athletic teams are encouraged to go to one specific event for each team and sign in to prove they were there, and the team with the most attendance across all of the different games at the end of the year gets a monetary reward that goes toward their team’s budget for the following year. 

These games featured some of the highest attendance numbers of the year at 461 attendees for the men and 323 attendees for the women. 

With that said, only 18% of those surveyed said they were more likely to attend a “Sea of Purple” event over a regular event. 

This year, UM’s brand new wrestling team set the year’s attendance record, with nearly 1,900 spectators attending the team’s inaugural home match on Nov. 15.   

The novelty and historic value of the event brought out the huge crowd, and the athletic department hopes to keep that momentum going into next season, especially with the success of the team this year. 

Social media has also been important in encouraging students to attend sporting events. 30% of survey respondents said they were more likely to attend an event if they saw it posted on social media.  

Respondents said they were more likely to attend an event on a weekend rather than a weekday.  

This is noteworthy, considering attendance numbers provided by the NCAA showed that more people actually did attend games, specifically men’s and women’s basketball, on weekdays than weekends this season. 

Perhaps the biggest factor in attendance is building direct relationships between athletes and other students on campus. 

“That’s one thing that we’ve talked about with teams and stuff is you have to market yourself,” said Hall.  

57% of survey respondents said they were more likely to attend a sporting event if they knew one or more of the athletes participating. 

Having more fans directly affects the energy in the arena for the student-athletes, so if they’re able to foster connections between other individuals and on-campus groups, people will be more willing to attend their sporting events.  

“What athlete doesn’t wanna play in front of a crowd?” asked freshman Cali Smallwood of the women’s basketball team.  

Whether it’s the field, pool, track or court, UM athletes won’t turn away from support, especially at home competitions. If all you can do is show up, then that’s more than enough.  

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