This spring has seen some huge spring game crowds around the Big Ten. Ohio State set the bar as high with a new national record of 99,391 fans in Ohio Stadium last weekend. Nebraska (76,881) and Penn State (68,000) currently round out the top three in spring game attendance in the Big Ten and nation so far this spring. Michigan even drew a large crowd of 60,000 with Jim Harbaugh in charge. This weekend we will see if Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio gets his desired 50,000 fans in Spartan Stadium. One of the most successful Big Ten programs over the last few years, Wisconsin, is expecting to get between 10,000 and 20,000 fans in Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
A good number of schools would love to get that kind of crowd, but for some reason the draw of the spring game in Madison has never really attracted a huge crowd. Wisconsin should be too concerned about having a relatively small spring crowd compared to its Big Ten rivals, but Athletics Director Barry Alvarez has a reason for why this may be the case.
“I just think there’s too many things to do in Madison that we have not — through a number of coaches — been able to generate that type of interest,” Alvarez said according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In fairness to Alvarez, the Milwaukee Brewers are hosting the St. Louis Cardinals this weekend, and the distance some fans have to travel to go to and from a game at Wisconsin can be a good hike.
Wisconsin is not going to start worrying about who does and who does not show up for the annual spring game, because the fans still find a way to pack the house on Saturdays in the fall. That is when it really matters the most.