In this fanpost about the Alabama vs. Purdue basketball game, attendance at the game was something brought up...as is often the case with our basketball program. Coleman Coliseum holds 15,316 and 12,477 were on hand to see us play the (at the time) #5 team in the country. That's roughly 81% full to see us take on one of the best in the land. We're unquestionably a football school with everything else being way behind as far as the level of attendance (I'm talking percentage of capacity here as nothing can obviously compete with football numbers-wise) and the level of intensity.
Since Alabama's football playing days in Birmingham are over, it makes me wonder if they should perhaps dedicate themselves to playing a basketball game in Birmingham on an annual basis since there's a lot of history between the University and Birmingham. Obviously, you'd keep all of the conference games in Tuscaloosa at Coleman Coliseum, but considering that Tuscaloosa more or less turns into a ghost town during the winter break, it seems like moving a game against a marquee opponent to the BJCC might be worth looking into. There's obviously a much bigger population base in Birmingham and it probably isn't too expensive or cumbersome to get the team to the Magic City from Tuscaloosa. The BJCC holds 17,654 for basketball games, which is, admittedly, too large for our program, but if you're going to have a bunch of empty seats anyway, might as well mix it up and do some "local barnstorming." Perhaps they could make it a big annual event for the local alumni society or something.
I know this is out of left field and I know neither party would ever go for it, but it'd be pretty awesome to have an annual game at Bartow Arena (capacity of just over 8,000.) That place gets absolutely rocking during games since it's so small and even on the last row of the arena you feel like you're on top of the action. Anyway, now back to reality...
I looked back at the last 10 years or so to see the attendance of games in the month of December (and early January) against "name opponents" to see if the idea was worth exploring:
03 JAN 2009: 9,988 for Georgia Tech (65% capacity)
13 DEC 2008: 9,316 for Texas A&M (61% capacity)
01 JAN 2008: 9,316 for Clemson (61% capacity)
01 JAN 2007: 11,538 for Oklahoma (75% capacity)
22 DEC 2005: 10,621 for North Carolina State (69% capacity)
11 DEC 2004: 11,751 for Temple (77% capacity)
30 DEC 2003: 10,714 for Wisconsin (70% capacity)
For some reason, attendance numbers weren't available for a home game against Providence in the early 2000s, nor for the game in Birmingham against Georgetown a few years ago (the box score on RollTide.com lacks the attendance figures and the box score on Georgetown's site doesn't exist.) Oh yeah, it's not a typo on the Texas A&M and Clemson attendances being identical, I checked it multiple times. Admittedly, this is a small sample size and some data is missing (no attendance figures for 01-02, 02-03 seasons), but we're not even cracking 2/3 capacity on some of these games. I know some of that had to do with people's frustration over Gottfriend's coaching, and some probably had to do with games being played on New Year's Day, but the numbers aren't what they could be. I'm very much in the camp of the games should be on campus and for the students, but since they're playing when school's out of session, why not move one to Birmingham once a year?