After the Spartan football team’s explosive 11-2 season last year along with rising star quarterback David Fales, student attendance at games such as Homecoming has seen almost double its usual attendance numbers, according to athletics media relations director Lawrence Fan.
“Student attendance this season has been one of the best in many years,” Fan said. “This season, the average student attendance is just over 3,000 student tickets per game. Last year’s number was just above 1,600.”
SJSU’s Homecoming football game on Oct. 26 against Wyoming saw 16,123 students in attendance, a rise from last year’s Homecoming game attendance of 15,168, according to Fan.
Fan said the home football game attendance is the best it has been in the last 25 years and attributed the rise in attendance partially to last year’s success and Fales being a good quarterback.
Blake Sasaki, senior associate athletic director for external relations, said Homecoming games are popular because of a combination of student and faculty support.
“The campus rallies around this game and promotes heavily the homecoming game for faculty, alumni and students,” Sasaki said. “It’s the one game that they come to.”
But when comparing student to teacher attendance, it is a disparity of 4,000 students versus at thousand faculty members who attended the Homecoming game, according to Sasaki. He said the reason for the difference isn't only that there are more students than faculty on campus, but also that marketing for Homecoming is more geared toward students.
“SJSU has a number of people that, if they can only come to one game a year, they target Homecoming and Homecoming Week because of the holiday university activities planned around it,” Fan said. “It’s a source of pride for those people and the athletics department and football program are very happy to be the anchor for the week’s festivities.”
Although student attendance in Spartan Stadium saw an increase in attendance this year and housed more than 16,000 fans, the venue has not seen a sellout since the Spartans
hosted Grambling State in 2003 where 30,456 people were in attendance, according to Fan.
“That game was built as the Literacy Classic, and it was Grambling’s first appearance in Northern California in many years,” Fan said.
Fitz Hill, the Spartans' head coach at the time, would go on to support further classics between historically black colleges and universities.
The Grambling State marching band is one of the most well known marching bands in the country. People attended the event for the band as much as the football game, according to Fan.
Spartans beat Grambling State 29-0 in a sweep that ended the 2003 home game in Spartan Stadium.
Ron Caragher, head coach of the Spartan football team, said he commended the student section at the Spartan Homecoming game and that student support created energy for the team that boosted their performance.
“Players come down the ramp and get received by a great crowd and the fans,” Caragher said. “Our players always look forward to that – playing in front of their family, their fans and their fellow students.”
Travis Raciti, a junior defensive lineman for the Spartan football team, said seeing the crowded home stands was a rewarding experience for all the hard work the team puts in and that he wanted to put on a good show for fans.
“It was great seeing them here and wearing the gold and blue and being in the stands and cheering you on,” Raciti said. “Being a Spartan, you want to show your pride and have your fellow students be prideful and say that they go to SJSU and have a good football team.”
Billy Freeman, a freshman tight end for the Spartan football team, said the loud cheering from fans at home games such as Homecoming is a good distraction for the other team.
“We really appreciate them coming out,” Freeman said. “Try to come out more often, we’ll give you a show.”