Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Attendance rose during the FCS playoffs last season, but the 125 programs in the lower half of Division I college football will have to work this year to reverse a downward trend overall.
In 709 games during the 2014 season, FCS schools drew 5,764,490 fans, or an average of 8,130 per game. That was down over 5 percent from 8,593 fans per game in 2013, or 6,238,740 over 726 games. It marked the third straight season with a decline in average attendance.
Attendance also was down in 2014 on the FBS and Division II and III levels.
However, attendance totaled 203,413 in 23 FCS playoff games, or an average of 8,844. That was up over 10 percent from 184,279 fans in 2013, or 8,012 per game. North Dakota State won the national championship game in front of 20,918 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, a total that was lower than the 2013 final.
Attendance at 13 neutral-site games involving FCS teams also was up by an average of 2,763 last season as well.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference topped its 2013 record in total attendance with 724,064 fans at 67 games, or an average of 10,807. The Valley trailed only the Southwestern Athletic Conference in total attendance (728,523) and average attendance (12,781).
All the FCS schools want to have what Montana is accomplishing. Fans flocked to an average of 23,777 to seven home games at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The FCS leader from the Big Sky Conference had nearly 4,000 more per game than the next-highest in average attendance, CAA Football member James Madison at 19,816.