SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–Missouri State athletic director Kyle Moats said early in the season that student attendance was a problem.
After Plaster Stadium’s gates closed for the final time this season, he’s still pointing his finger towards the students after the school finished with its lowest home football attendance since 1988.
“I think it’s strictly from the students,” Moats said in a phone interview with the News-Leader. “We had no student support, whatsoever. That makes it tough when you don’t get three or four thousand there.”
Moats told the News-Leader in late September that he reached out to student organizations to discuss ways to get more students in the stadium.
In 2014, the school moved BearFest Village north of Plaster Stadium to bring pregame festivities closer to the stadium entrance.
Missouri State attempted giveaways throughout games and also introduced alcohol sales inside the stadium.
Still, the total home attendance for 2017 was the lowest in decades, after 41,973 people showed up for Missouri State’s five home football games.
In 1988, a total of 34,069 people attended five then-Southwest Missouri State home games.
The average attendance per game is the university’s worst since 1989 as an average of 8,394.6 people attended games this season.
“Would we have liked to have better attendance? Absolutely,” Moats said.
As Missouri State finishes the season at Youngstown State on Saturday, Moats isn’t convinced performance on the field is the main reason for low turnouts when the team is at home.
Moats said he continues to have discussions with student organizations, but he’d like to see the team improve, in order to know if winning is the cure.
“When you have a problem, sometimes you don’t know what the problem is,” Moats said. “So we like to cross off all the problems there might be. If we improve that, then it can’t be an excuse.”
Moats said he has looked at the different explanations and has crossed them out throughout the season.
He doesn’t believe the recently renovated facility or the weather has played too much of a factor in the turnout.
Moats also said he feels like the game day experience has improved.
“The atmosphere is much better than it was,” Moats said. “I always think we can improve and do better. We certainly would have liked more folks out.”
With the home schedule finished, Moats said he’ll continue to look for answers in order to bring more students into the stadium.
And it starts with talking to the students.
“We’ll continue to try to get feedback,” Moats said. “We do start with student leaders. Sometimes they don’t have the answers to represent the rest of the group.”