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UTEP football attendance numbers hit new low

Gaby Velasquez

On Saturday, UTEP athletics debuted a new starting time for the football game—5:30-—which had mixed reactions from fans.

In fact, the majority of fans didn’t pour into the stadium until about midway into the first quarter, as expected. At about halftime, the Sun Bowl’s press box side was flooded in a sea of orange and blue, and it looked like an admirable crowd for a home opener.

The attendance looked dense in numbers by the start of the third quarter, when Northern Arizona started to pull away for the win. I thought to myself, “maybe 18-19,000, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they said 23,000 fans.”

But when I heard the final number, all I could think of was how it reflected the state of the fans across the city and how they truly feel about the team.

Not only was this the first loss UTEP had against an FCS program since they lost 34-13 to Cal Poly in 2003—which was Gary Nord’s last year as head coach—but the Miners lost a bulk of their fans in attendance. The Miners final record in ‘03 was 2-11.

The measley 17, 271 fans in the crowd was the lowest in attendance for a home opener since the 1976 season, where the Miners beat UT-Arlington for their only win of the season.

We’re talking the ‘70s when the Miners put together one of the worst decades in program history and were a laughing stock of college football.

Is history repeating itself?

No, attendance numbers hitting new lows has been a long-time coming. For too long UTEP fans have been loyal, making sure to get their season tickets in advance and have supported their hometown team for years on end. They’ve patently endured hard times and basked in spurts of little (big in their eyes) victories.

They’ve drank the kool-aid too many times now where the team promises reform and a new on-field product.

Saturday showed that it’s the same old story, just a different season, as they lost their 13th straight game (the longest active losing streak in FBS).

Kudos to UTEP athletics for the effort, though. They helped drop the season ticket price to an affordable one of $55 this spring, which is less than $10 a ticket. They took a big step forward into promotions and marketing the team through graphic designs and social media. UTEP’s uniform department did a fantastic job in supplying the team with three new combinations for the season.

The attitude from the athletics department came with so much energy and enthusiasm.

But the fans were already long gone.

UTEP football has long lost its fans, even before their losing streak. Fans want answers, not excuses. They want wins now, not wins in the future.

Right down the street, the El Paso Chihuahuas held their final weekend homestand of the regular season and saw a sold-out crowd of 9, 559 for “Harry Potter Night.” Fans witnessed an intense 5-4 extra innings finish in Tacoma’s favor. But with the loss, El Paso was far from disparity. The Chihuahuas have already clinched their fourth divisional title in five seasons and have put together one of the best seasons in club history.

The Chihuahuas’ marketing lets their numbers speak for itself. They are always within the top five attendance in Minor League Baseball and in the top five merchandise sales. Although the Miners are always in the top five in attendance among C-USA teams, their numbers are starting to fall like never before.

And the Chihuahuas give the fans an in-game experience like no other. Some fans don’t even watch the game because of the off-field antics aside to the sport, like their superb food selection and hilarious in-game promotions.

UTEP’s answer for an in-game promotion was two sorry fan games over a poor quality speaker.

No matter. Only 17, 271 disappointed fans witnessed it anyways.  It’s been 647 days and counting since the UTEP Miners football team has won a game.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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UTEP football attendance numbers hit new low