Fewer Tickets than 2016, But 2nd-Most All-Time Sold for Men’s DI NCAAs


This year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Championships sold 11,680 spectator tickets, combined single-session and all-session. This number is second-to-only last season’s attendance at Georgia Tech, where 13,306 tickets were sold.

You can see a comparison of tickets sold at the last seven Men’s NCAA DI Championships below:

Year Champion Host/Site Attendance
2011 California Minnesota 4,782
2012 California Federal Way, WA 8,194
2013 Michigan Indianapolis 11,613
2014 California Austin, TX 10,586
2015 Texas Iowa City, IA 6,783
2016 Texas Georgia Tech 13,306
2017 Texas Indianapolis 11,680

Last month, we wrote about the relative emptiness of the stands at the IUPUI Natatorium for the 2017 Women’s NCAA DI Championships, which sold about 1,600 fewer tickets than the men’s: 10,031 total.  That number was also second only to last year’s meet at Georgia Tech, in women’s NCAA Nationals tickets sold.

However, we observed that the IUPUI Natatorium is so large that even a record-shattering crowd (at either competition) could leave hundreds of seats empty per-session, especially during the weekday and prelim swims. The facility has the capacity to seat 4,700 spectators, compared to the smaller, but still top-flight aquatic centers at the University of Minnesota (1,346 seats) and Georgia Tech (1,900 seats). Some of the excitement and cheering can get lost in the big facility, especially for onlookers whose last major meet was the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. That meet sold out across 15 sessions with a seating capacity of around 18,000.

The article about the NCAA women’s meet attendance sparked a thoughtful discussion in the comment section, with suggestions of different ways to increase attendance at both championships. Commenters had tons of suggestions, from offering free tickets to local swim teams and classrooms, to ensuring that local age group meets aren’t held on the same weekend as major college meets, to changing the meet format so that it doesn’t take place mostly during the work week, and re-formatting the online ticket sales.

We know that American interest in the sport is at an all-time high, and that Midwestern swim fans and willing travelers can fill even an entire CenturyLink Center of seats. We also know that the NCAA DI Championships are a hotbed of some of the fastest swimmers in the world competing for a team-based swimming title unlike any other. Though the second-largest ticket sales in history is an admirable stat, it would be worth a push to pack the stands, even at a huge facility like Indiana’s.

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About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

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