Through four seasons in the beautiful Apogee Stadium, North Texas has yet to play a sold out game. The Mean Green average 19,478 fans when they take the field on Saturdays (and sometimes Thursdays). For Mean Green fans this is a disappointing statistic that is a focal point of each season.
Strategies used to boost attendance range from twitter campaigns to free products, but none have been as successful as originally hoped. Is this the season that the Mean Green finally #PackApogee and play in front of 30,850? Or are North Texas fans in for another season of disappointing attendance?
The last time the Mean Green sold out a home game was in 1990 against rival SMU. That is not exactly an easy statistic to find. Thankfully there are still dedicated long time North Texas fans around on sites such as Mean Green Forum that remember sell outs and carry the same passion they had in 1990 into each Mean Green season. Unfortunately, those fans are not abundant, or at the very least, are not easy to attract to a game at Apogee Stadium. However, the lack of attendance cannot completely be blamed on poor fans or loyalty.
The list of non-conference opponents that UNT has hosted in Apogee is rather unimpressive. With opponents such as Idaho, Nicholls State and Texas Southern making their way on to the home schedule each year, it is hard to expect fans to get excited and come in masses.
This results in a reliance on conference games to generate the hype necessary for the Mean Green to finally break the thirty thousand mark. Few Conference-USA teams other than Marshall have the potential to bring fans in that are simply eager to see two exciting teams play a close game. Teams such as UTSA and Rice have a forming rivalry with the Mean Green that could eventually generate enough hype to bring both UNT and visiting team alumni to Denton for a sellout.
That doesn't mean the Mean Green fans don't need to step it up themselves. To be fair, Denton is not the easiest place to convince 30,850 people to gather on a Saturday. The stadium is within an hour of Dallas and Arlington which host three major league teams, along with dozens of entertaining events each weekend.
Regardless, with around 237,000 alumni living in the DFW area, it is not unreasonable to expect just around 10% of them to show up to a game every now and then. The program needs to do more to engage their local alumni and pair them with a growing and spirited student body to produce consistently high attendance numbers.
As simple as that plans sounds, this season will probably not be the one that the Mean Green finally fill up their stadium. With only five home games on the schedule, the best chance for a sell-out probably lies in either the opening game against Rice or the Halloween game against UTSA.
Both teams have alumni and fan bases that can easily travel to help boost attendance, along with both games being generally interesting to watch. That being said, the chances are still unlikely considering the last time these two teams came to Denton was during a very successful 2013 season which still only resulted in 19,335 for UTSA and 22,835 for Rice.
For the Mean Green fans that are in the stadium on their feet every Saturday, this is just preaching to the choir. For the rest of the fans of North Texas football and those who have a part in making the schedule each season, this should be a wake-up call.
At times this program has fielded teams that deserved a full house and they have yet to enjoy that privilege. While I don't believe 2015 is the year that the Mean Green finally pack the house, I'd also have no problem being proven incorrect.