Free lift tickets. Two free season passes to Sugar Bowl. Free snowboard jackets, boots and apparel. A body-painting contest. A Greek attendance competition. The chance to be on television.
That’s what it took to get a crowd of 2,378 to come to the Pavilion on Saturday to watch the UC Davis men’s basketball team host Big West Conference foe Long Beach State.
The attendance was roughly three times higher than it was for the Aggies’ Big West home opener on Thursday and was more than half of the team’s previous five-game attendance number of 4,359 – an average of 872.
There are more than 872 people in UC Davis’ student body who participate annually in March Madness pools. There are more than 872 students who will tune into ESPN’s “Super Tuesday” coverage of Indiana-Ohio State, Memphis-Tulsa and Kentucky-Tennessee tonight.
There are more than 872 college basketball fans on this campus. They should be fans of UC Davis basketball, too.
The Aggies are coming off a three-game set that shows how far they’ve come in the past year. They came within three points of knocking off Cal State Northridge, the unanimous preseason Big West favorite, on the road Monday night, and then handed UC Riverside its first conference loss on Thursday.
On Saturday, UC Davis battled back from a 40-10 Long Beach run to close the first half to bring things within two possessions before falling to the 49ers, who are undefeated in conference play.
In short, Aggie Pack’s promotions for the Long Beach-UC Davis tilt worked – on Saturday. If UC Davis’ college basketball fans keep coming back, then the promotions’ effects can be measured as a season-long success.
We’ve had this problem before. In 2005, 5,386 fans came to the Pavilion to watch the Aggies beat Stanford. In their next home game six days later, the attendance number shrunk back to 875.
Hopefully, that doesn’t happen this time. This class of team deserves a better class of fan.