This has been the summer of entertainment bombshells, but we've also seen atomic announcements in the form of conference realignment across college athletics. On the heels of last year's announcement that USC and UCLA would be leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten, the Pac-12 recently saw additional defections with Washington and Oregon leaving the conference to join the Big Ten and Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah all agreed to join the Big 12. In what seems like a football version of Game of Thrones, the 108-year-old Pac-12 now looks to become the "Pac-4" in the short term with only Cal, Stanford, Washington State and Oregon State remaining. Granted, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes negotiations going on: maybe Stanford will go independent, maybe Stanford and Cal will join the ACC if they can just overturn one of the nay votes from Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina, and North Carolina State. Perhaps Andrew Luck’s father Oliver Luck, who has been hired by the Pac-12 as a consultant, can convince other schools to join the now-Pac 4. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, this is proving to be just as nail-biting as watching the Superbowl and seeing if a Hail Mary moment occurs.
In the meantime, we thought we'd take a look at Placer data to see how stadium traffic compared for the erstwhile Pac-12 and Big Ten stadiums during last year’s fall 2022 season.
In 2022, the Pac 12 kicked off on Sep. 1, 2022 and ended Dec. 2, 2022. For the Big Ten, the weekends in late August and early-mid September had the highest number of visitors. The average number of visits per stadium also tended to be higher at the Big Ten stadiums.
So which schools were the top 3 in visits for each conference? For the Pac-12, it was the University of Arizona Wildcats, USC Trojans, and the University of Oregon Ducks. For the Big Ten, it was the Ohio State Buckeyes, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Penn State Nittany Lions. (Admittedly, some of the stadiums for both conferences are used for other purposes during non-football weekends.)
One of the main observations coming out of all the sports pundits in the last week is how much further families and fans will have to travel for certain pairings. For instance, USC and UCLA students will likely travel 159% more air miles and 44% more bus miles now that their new competitors are several time zones away, not just a simple flight north an hour or two away. In the case of the Stanford-USC game on Sep. 10, 2022, the game at Stanford Stadium attracted roughly 49K visitors. For the Sep. 24, 2022 game against the Washington Huskies, the figure stood at 46K. Meanwhile the home games for USC drew 86K versus Rice on Sep. 3, 2022 and 107K vs Fresno State on Sep. 17, 2022.