When ASU football coach Todd Graham first arrived on campus, he was motivated to revive some the Sun Devils’ discontinued traditions such as the return to Camp Tontozona.
He is also attempting to start new traditions.
Among these changes is the creation of the Devil Walk, a pregame indoor meeting where the footballers, dressed in suits, parade through Wells Fargo Area to meet fans and hold pep rallys about two and a half hours prior to kickoff. It seemed like a great idea to give fans an escape from the blistering heat, but still interact with the team. It’s also a great time for another one of Todd Graham’s shaking hands and kissing babies photo ops. The upgrade from the minor ceremony where fans high-fived players as they departed the team bus toward Sun Devil Stadium to a classy, air-conditioned pep rally with a marching band is nice.
Unfortunately, not many students and fans have been attending the last three home games.
While people think Sun Devil Stadium has too many open seats on Saturday nights, the turnout ratio in the much-smaller 10,754-seat gymnasium is even worse.
We know ASU still has a good number of diehard, raucous fans, especially the ones in the front rows in the student section that bring the energy onto the field, but why are they not there?
A lot of factors go into it. Many aren’t attending games in general since the alternate is watching it on television under air conditioning. For the ones who actually do have tickets, fans feel like there are better things to do prior to the game — like tailgating or hanging out at Mill Avenue.
There is nothing wrong with what Graham is trying to do with the football program and promote a college football environment that is similar to schools in the south, but Arizonans simply aren’t ready for it. Many sports fans in Arizona migrated from different parts of the country and have ties to their native teams.
It’s also the case why the Suns, Diamondbacks, Coyotes and Cardinals have attendance issues of their own.
Arizona sports fans want a winning program, which is what they haven’t seen much out of ASU. Until then, ASU football has to deal with a large number of empty seats in the Devil Walk (and maybe the stadium) for a little longer.
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