There has been some recent discussion about attendance figures for UTSA’s first season of football and Georgia State is a program that has been thrown around for comparison for a while now, and for good reason. There are a lot of similarities between the two programs, including:
Both teams play in large indoor facilities in large cities (Alamodome, San Antonio; Georgia Dome, Atlanta). Both programs brought in big name head coaches (Larry Coker, Bill Curry). Both schools are within driving distance of major FBS programs (Univ. of Texas, Univ. of Georgia). Both schools have just over 30,000 students.
However, there are quite a few differences as well: San Antonio’s population is 1,306,300, while Atlanta’s is just over 40% of that at 540,922. Atlanta is also the home of FBS-program Georgia Tech, as well as professional teams in all four major sports, while the Spurs are the only major team in San Antonio. Georgia State has elected to stay in the FCS, while UTSA has already been accepted to the WAC and the FBS. Georgia State had celebrated its 50th anniversary before UTSA was even founded (1913/1969).
With all that being said, the only area that I think that UTSA is behind in would be alumni interest, since we’ve been in existence for less than half the time as Georgia State. Otherwise, it seems like all signs point to UTSA having as much, if not more, success than Georgia State experienced this past season.
Georgia State was able to draw 30,000 fans to their first game, which was played on a Thursday evening at the same time as an Atlanta Braves home game. Coker and the athletic department have said repeatedly that UTSA expects to draw at least 45,000 and possibly sell out the Alamodome. I think that number is extremely plausible considering the larger population of San Antonio and what will likely be a Saturday game. The only thing I can think of that could drop our number by more than 1000 or so would be if the Longhorns game in Austin against Rice were played at the same time, since a lot of college football fans in San Antonio might prefer to go to the game in Austin or stay home and watch it on TV, while two other games that could have an impact on our attendance are SMU @ A&M and Texas State @ Texas Tech. There are many fans in agreement that we should try to avoid scheduling our opener at the same time as these games, but either way I think the estimate of 45,000 would definitely be possible.