There are a lot of magic numbers for basketball programs near the end of February. For the Iowa women, Thursday is about the number 7,464.
That’s the number of fans the Hawkeyes need to set the all-time single-season attendance record.
“It’s fun,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “It says that people are excited about our program. People want to support the women that are on the floor and on the team for this program.”
Over 13 home dates, Iowa has averaged 5,883 fans per contest. That’s the most in the 11 years of the Bluder era and the best total since 1995, when Iowa averaged 6,147 fans.
The record Iowa is trying to break is the 83,945 total fans from the 1994 season.
Iowa is doing a pile of promotions to get fans out to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Free season tickets for the 2011-12 season, $5 tickets via social media and bobbleheads and other prizes given out during the night.
“Our marketing department has done a much better job this year at really trying to get the word out about our games and doing some more creative promotions,” Bluder said.
From 1990 — when the NCAA first started keeping track — to 1998, Iowa always was ranked in the Top 10 nationally in attendance for women’s basketball.
Then in 1999 and 2000, the final two years under Angie Lee, Iowa dropped to 22nd and 29th nationally. Bluder got a bump her first two seasons, but struggled to keep bringing back the fans year after year.
Iowa hit a modern era low by drawing just 2,987 fans per game in 2008. And last season Iowa drew just 3,488 and ranked 32nd in the country.
But following an NCAA Tournament win last spring, a Top 25 ranking this fall and a little better promotion, the fans returned to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I just think it, again, is kind of another maybe benchmark of where this program is heading and how far we’ve come,” Bluder said.
Iowa currently ranks 13th nationally in attendance.
Bluder said the big crowds have made a difference for Iowa (20-7, 8-6 Big Ten) as the Hawkeyes earned their fourth straight 20-win season.
“Our fans have been great this year … and they’ve been loud,” Bluder said. “They appreciate the players and the effort that they give, a so they’ve just been tremendous.”
It won’t be an easy number to reach with a 7:30 p.m. start on a weeknight.
Iowa has topped that number twice this season. The first was a home a game against Kansas State on Dec. 5 (7,641) and then against Ohio State on Jan. 8 (9,865).
The first game was a Sunday afternoon and was the annual Buck Night, where entry cost just $1. The game against Ohio State was a Saturday afternoon game.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Bluder said. “I mean, 7,400 people in here on a weeknight is not going to be easy, but again, I think there’s all the right reasons to come out for this game.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball