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Iowa Has Led The Nation In Dual Attendance For A Decade: Can Anyone Knock Them Off?

Grapple on the Gridiron

According to attendance figures released by Denny Diehl of Roby Publishing, the Iowa Hawkeyes led the nation in dual meet attendance for the 10th consecutive year. Iowa’s record-breaking crowd of 42,287, when they wrestled Oklahoma State in Kinnick Stadium at the Grapple on the Gridiron, would have been third on its own, behind the rest of Iowa’s season and Penn State who was second overall. Rounding out the top five were Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Rutgers.

Of note was the fact that without the Grapple on the Gridiron, Penn State would likely have ended Iowa’s run at the top. The Hawkeye’s averaged just 7862 fans for their other home duals, down from 8358 in 2014-15. Had they wrestled the Cowboys in Carver-Hawkeye Arena (CHA), they would have had to draw 15,018 fans to average 8757 fans for the season, one more than the Nittany Lions. CHA capacity is 15,500. The last time the Hawkeyes hosted the Cowboys in CHA, in 2014, the attendance was 10,141.

This creates the very real scenario that 2016-17, or another season in the near future, could be the season that someone finally unseats mighty Iowa as the dual attendance kings. Of course, that someone would almost certainly have to be Penn State as they were the only other program to top even 4000 fans per meet a year ago. Rutgers is an interesting dark horse this year due to their Battle at the Birthplace event, against Princeton, at High Point Solutions Stadium, which holds 52,454. They would need something very close to a sell out to make the season average close, but with a strong showing there, they could get it done.

Penn State’s attendance was bolstered a year ago by having two meets at the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC), which has a listed capacity of 15,261. They typically only have had one meet per year there, hosting the rest of their schedule in Rec Hall which has a capacity of 6502.  One match in the BJC is again the plan for 2016-17, limiting Penn State’s attendance figures. This could make the national attendance race extremely tight. Also working against the Nittany Lions is the fact that they get Iowa and Ohio State on the road this year. In fact, they don’t have any of the other national contenders on their home slate. Iowa has the aforementioned dual with Penn State in CHA and also hosts Ohio State, though they do go to Stillwater for the Oklahoma State dual. Ultimately, the fans will decide who wins the attendance race this season.

Overall, of those teams who were in the top 10 the last two seasons, Iowa’s average attendance rose by over 3500 fans, but that was heavily influenced by the Grapple on the Gridiron. Going by the other seven dates, they were down almost 500 fans per dual. Penn State’s attendance rose by over 1000 fans per dual, again, largely due to an extra meet in the BJC, while Oklahoma State returned to number three on the list, averaging more than 600 fans per dual more than they did in 2014-15. Ohio State fell off after their national championship season in 2015, averaging 702 fewer fans per meet. The aforementioned Rutgers added more than 150 fans per dual to their average while Iowa State also improved by a similar margin. Minnesota plummeted to less than half their attendance from 2014-15 and went from third to seventh in the attendance tables. Northern Iowa was close to staying steady, averaging 30 fewer fans per meet than a year ago.

Lehigh and Virginia Tech were in the top 10 in dual attendance after missing out in 2014-15 while Pittsburgh and Cornell fell out of the top 10. Cornell was 12th despite averaging five more fans per dual overall. The full top 10 can be found below.

Rank

Team

Avg. Attendance

Total Attendance

Best Attendance

1

Iowa

12166

97325

42287

2

Penn State

8756

61289

15983

3

Oklahoma State

3687

29493

6935

4

Ohio State

3685

19254

5650

5

Rutgers

2874

16226

3360

6

Iowa State

2545

12723

5612

7

Minnesota

2290

16033

2974

8

Lehigh

2222

13329

5909

9

Virginia Tech

2116

10758

5079

10

Northern Iowa

1916

9579

2100

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