How do you fill the bank? Just Win.

Published 9:27am Monday, September 17, 2012

Column: Aaron Worm, Behind the Mic

I know this has been a topic of conversation on Twins Cities radio, and it was a topic my brothers that I kicked around a lot while sitting at TCF Bank Stadium watching the Gophers beat Western Michigan; why can’t they sell out this stadium? All seven home games in 2009 when the stadium first opened were sell outs, but attendance numbers have went a little south since. According to, there were no sellouts last season in the 50,805-seat facility. Saturday’s exciting win had 44,000 plus in attendance.

Aaron Worm

Maybe it’s because the games start too early.  We all know TV coverage dictates when games start and since the Gophers are not usually one of the powerhouses in the conference, they don’t get that mid-afternoon or night game often, like the Ohio States and Michigans of the world do. I know my Saturday morning started early being on the road by 7 a.m. to get up there early enough to check out some of the activities going on before kickoff. I enjoy tailgating, but lighting up the grill by 8 or 9 a.m. seems too early, unless you have a good way to grill eggs over charcoal. I was yawning by the third quarter while my 4-year-old son slept most of the second half.

The consensus vote between my three brothers and I on why the stadium was not full was that there’s too much to do in the Twin Cities. Minneapolis is not a college town. It’s a major metropolitan area.

Wisconsin is in Madison, not Milwaukee; Iowa is in Iowa City; not Des Moines, and the Michigan schools are in Ann Arbor and East Lansing, not in Detroit. There are too many other things going on and too many options to spend your entertainment dollars on in the Twins Cities. From festivals, to concerts, to shows, amusement parks and other sporting events, there are endless possibilities of things to do. I am sure there are other funs things to do in Lincoln, Neb., and Columbus, other than watch college football, but the list can’t compare to the number of events the Gophers have to compete with.

Where are all the students?  I went to the Wisconsin/Gophers game two years ago and the game was announced as a sellout, even though it was easy to see that half of the student seats in the upper deck were empty. Badgers fans immediately stood up and pointed to those seats, after the announcement. My brother Ryan is a senior at the “U,” and is a big sports fan, but doesn’t go to many games. Saturday’s game will probably be the only one he attends this year. I asked him why? He said he didn’t have time. As soon as the game was over, he was back to hitting the books.

You’ve got to be pretty smart to go to the “U” — a school that I know would have never accepted me. My brother is going into engineering, which I am sure requires classes a lot more difficult than the ones I took for my mass comm degree.

They have now added alcohol sales at the stadium to raise revenue and entice fans to come, and sliced prices for this week’s game against Syracuse, but like with most sports teams it comes down to winning.  If the Gophers can be in the upper half of the Big Ten year after year, and start playing in bowl games Jan. 1 and later, those seats will fill. If you win, they will come.


KATE Radio Sports Director Aaron Worm’s column appears each Monday in the Tribune. He can be heard from 6 to 11 a.m. weekdays on The Breeze.