No. 19 Florida drew just 80,017 fans to Saturday’s game with Missouri, which also happened to be the Gators’ Homecoming date. And that’s the announced crowd; the actual gate was much smaller.
Even taking Florida at their word that 80,000-plus really were in attendance to see the Gators host the Tigers, it’s still a historically low crowd. According to Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times, it’s the lowest crowd Florida has drawn since 1990, the season before Ben Hill Griffin expanded its capacity to 83,000. (The stadium now hosts 91,616.)
The small crowd likely can’t be blamed solely on a lack of buy-in from the fan base. Under first-year head coach Dan Mullen, the Gators entered the game at 6-2 and ranked No. 11 in the country, a far cry from last season’s 4-7 campaign, although Florida did lose its most recent game, a 36-17 setback to No. 5 Georgia in Jacksonville.
The light crowd is likely a data point in an overall down trend in college football attendance, which fell 3 percent year over year from 2016 to ’17.
Florida’s next-smallest crowd during the program’s modern era came in 2004 against Middle Tennessee, during the Ron Zook years.
“When we sell out the stadium, we win a championship,” Mullen said this spring. “It doesn’t go the other way. It’s not we win, you sell out. You sell out, you win. Go watch teams that have built programs. That’s how it works.”
Perhaps Florida fans could see the future, though. Florida did lose the game to Mizzou, 38-17.