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National Champs draw few ND students

Kaitlynn Riely | Tuesday, September 20, 2005

On Saturday afternoon, more than 80,000 fans gathered at Notre Dame Stadium to support the Irish football team in their first home game.

But Friday night, the defending national champion Notre Dame women’s soccer team beat DePaul 6-0 in front of less than three percent of the attendance of the Michigan State game.

The fifth-ranked team’s soccer games are played on Alumni Field, which has a seating capacity of 2,500. On Friday, 1,914 fans attended.

The stadium was not filled to capacity, but the women had more fans than usual due to the crowds in town for the football game. Director of Events and Sports Promotion Monica Cundiff tracks the attendance numbers at these games.

“Many games throughout the soccer season we have attendances of 1,200 and 1,500 and over 2,000,” Cundiff said. “But we struggle drawing for the very wintery cold games, the rainy games, which has played a role in why we draw so poorly for the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament games.”

In the 2004 season, the average fan attendance per game was 1,115, and in 2003 the average was 958.

Nicole Jones, the Sports Promotion Coordinator for the men’s and women’s soccer teams, is working to bring more students to the games. She believed distance factored into the low attendance.

“Many students don’t come [to the games] because it is too far to walk,” Jones said.

The soccer team uses promotions to draw people to the games. Usually advertisements can be seen in the dining halls in the days leading up to each home game. At the DePaul game, the first 100 fans were given a free Gold Games T-shirt. Jones said they use the offer of long-sleeve shirts and other “unique, upscale promotions to draw more fans.” The Promotions Office also uses radio, television and newspaper to advertise not only to students but also to South Bend residents.

Bridget Hanrahan, a senior who has worked at the games for several years selling merchandise, said she believes there has been an increase in attendance since the women won the championship last year.

But the increase hasn’t been that dramatic.

“I never get around to it,” freshman George Chamberlain said. “There is always a reason not to go.