UTEP Football Has a Winning Record and a Big Attendance Problem
Don't look now, but the UTEP football team has won four out of their first five games this season. That included a pair of come-from-behind wins against New Mexico and Old Dominion. Despite the team's best record in 11 years, attendance for home games has not mirrored the team's success on the field.
- 14,554: Bethune Cookman
- 15,069: UNM
- 11,025: Old Dominion
What stands out is that four thousand fewer fans were at the Sun Bowl Saturday night for the Miners C-USA opener than the previous week against the Lobos.
I knew that Tweet would not make any new friends, but I did receive some interesting responses from angry El Pasoans as to why they are not attending games. Some mentioned COVID, but my Tweet was not directed towards them. In fact, I respect any fan who is putting the safety of their family first and not going out to any large gatherings.
Others mentioned ticket prices as the reason they are staying away from the Sun Bowl. UTEP's lowest-priced individual game ticket varies from as high as $15 for ODU to as low as $10 for Rice on November 20th. Interestingly enough, tickets for the UTSA game on November 6th starts at $12 each. The UTEP Athletic Department also moved all ticket purchases away from the UTEP Ticket Office in front of the Don Haskins Center to the new Eisenberg Ticket Office in front of the Brumbelow Building. Fans also do not have to deal with all the fees and mark-ups like they used to encounter with Ticketmaster.
The big question is this—is $10-$15 too high for a base ticket to see the Miners? I looked into other programs in Conference USA and most league affiliates have a low-end price of $20 per game. UTSA has a base $13 ticket (lowest in C-USA), but it is up high in the corner of the end zone at the Alamodome. Most of their decent tickets are priced anywhere from $28 up to $203 to sit in section 112 on the 50 yard line behind the Roadrunners bench. Sections 111 and 113 which are between the 35 and 45 yard line are $121 each plus fees. UTSA is offering a 50% discount on all tickets for the Rice game, but even with the discount most of the Alamodome is priced higher than the Sun Bowl for a Miners game. Some fans suggested a $5 ticket to entice people to go watch the Miners. However, if UTEP was to create a price point similar to the grass berm at Southwest University Park, it could upset the core season ticket base that spent considerably more money than that to watch the Miners in 2021. Also, the Chihuahuas played 65 home games this season and the Locomotive have 16 regular season home matches compared to just six home football games for the Miners.
There were other reasons mentioned for people not attending UTEP games. The Way Out West Country Music Festival, Wine festival, and the Locomotive FC watch party were three of the events that some people included for not watching the Miners. The truth is that each weekend, there are always plenty of things to do locally. What is also obvious is that UTEP is not the priority that it was years ago. This means that the school's Athletic Department will need to think out of the box in order to get El Pasoans returning to the Sun Bowl. With only three home games left, it remains to be seen if the UTEP football team will get the kind of local support that they deserve.