Letter to the Editor: Stadium location to blame for low attendance

I am a senior, and until this year I’ve been fortunate to be able to enjoy a perennially good football team, one that I am always still able to care about during bowl season. It has been a very exciting few years for NU football. And yet, the crowds in the student section at our games are always notoriously small. Every single game I’ve gone to (which is every home game I’ve been on campus for), I’ve had many friends tell me they’re not going because Ryan Field is too far away and they “just don’t feel like it.” Come on, folks. This is a significant part of our University; the athletics. Our student body just doesn’t seem to care enough about sports.

But there’s a big reason for that. NU’s campus, instead of having a football stadium and a basketball arena at its heart, has an enormous grad school building, a seminary, and a high-priced hotel taking up the best locations on campus. And if I were a betting man, I’d say that the average undergrad has been inside no more than one of those three buildings. Before I go any further, I’m not advocating that Coach Fitz drives a bulldozer through the middle of campus while dragging Ryan Field behind it to take those buildings’ place (though that would be really cool to watch). What I am saying is that NU is a Big Ten school, and the Big Ten is a pretty important conference. I remember more home games in which the visiting fans outnumbered us than vice versa, and much of that is due to the fact that people don’t want to go a mile north of campus to see our team play.

I’m not an unrealistic person; I understand that moving Ryan Field to campus would not completely solve our attendance problem, but it would certainly help. In 2010, according to ESPN, NU finished 83rd nationally in average attendance per game. And Bleacher Report included Ryan Field as one of their “25 Worst College Football Stadium Experiences” due to the low attendance. It seems that everything – Kellogg’s move to downtown Chicago, the nationally recognized low attendance numbers – is pointing to a move to campus being the best option. So, Fitz, Morty, Jim Phillips, Willie the Wildcat, whoever’s listening: PLEASE give us a stadium on campus! But until that day when we can make the move, I call on each and every student to get out to Ryan Field, jingle your keys, make your wildcat claws, and put your hands up in the air for our ‘Cats.

Max Moline

Communications senior