Thursday, March 12, 2009

First-day ACC tournament attendance: 26,352

Perhaps feeling a bit insecure about the empty seats in the Georgia Dome, the ACC provided some comparative attendance figures from other conference tournaments.

Thursday's attendance was 26,352 per session, which is substantially down from 2001, when the ACC averaged 36,505 per session in Atlanta. Still, that's better than the league has done since then.

According to the league, the Big East has averaged 19,375 per session in each of the first three days of its tournament (that's an announced sellout at Madison Square Garden), the Big 12 drew 15,580 on Wednesday and 14,909 on Thursday, the Big Ten had 12,174 on Wednesday, the Pac-10 had 10,964 on Wednesday and the SEC drew 11,071 on Wednesday.

Really, the league shouldn't feel awkward about its numbers being down. Even if they don't approach 2001, the ACC is still selling more tickets than it would be able to in Greensboro, and despite an absolutely miserable economy.

Things should pick up Friday, when the top four seeds are thrown into the mix, although Clemson's early departure (with most fans within a few hours of Atlanta) won't help. -- Luke DeCock, (Raleigh) News & Observer