COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina ranks No. 1 in average home women’s basketball attendance for the second-straight season, the NCAA formally announced today. The Gamecocks averaged 14,364 fans at Colonial Life Arena this season as one of two programs to draw over 10,000 per game. South Carolina’s increase of 2,072 over last season’s average ranked second in the nation, and the Gamecocks played in front of a total of 322,424 fans over their 35 games this season, the highest total in the country.
“Our fans are amazing, and coaches all over the country ask us what we’re doing to fill the seats,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “We do our part, but it’s our fans that create that environment that others want to be a part of. And, they take it as a challenge to be back at the top of the attendance rankings. As much as they follow our team and our stats, they’re looking at attendance figures around the country and challenging each other to get more people to come to games. It’s an incredible thing to watch.”
Gamecock fans poured into Colonial Life Arena in 2015-16, recording three of the five most-attended games in the nation on the season, including the highest single-game total of 18,000 on Feb. 8, 2016. They went on to punch their ticket for eight of the top 10, and 15 of the Gamecocks’ 17 home games this season ranked among the top 25 in attendance.
South Carolina’s attendance has grown steadily in recent years, since the launch of the program’s “Drive for 5” in 2013-14, during which the number grew from 2012-13’s average of 3,952 to 6,371 as the Gamecocks led the nation in attendance increase. The program repeated the feat in 2014-15 as the average nearly doubled again to 12,293 for a 5,922 increase, which was more than double the increase of the next team on the list. In 2015-16, Gamecock fans again rose to the challenge to keep the program atop the national average, despite ceding the average increase top spot to SEC rival Missouri by 121 fans per game.
The Southeastern Conference led the nation in women’s basketball attendance for the second-straight season as well, setting an all-time attendance high for any conference with 1,108,511 fans passing through turnstiles during home games and conference tournament action. In total, 11 SEC schools were ranked in the top 50 in average home attendance with five listed in the top 25.