SoCon tournament attendance falters

SoCon tournament attendance falters

March 10th, 2011 by David Paschall in Sports

Out like a lamb.

The 2011 Southern Conference men's basketball tournament that concluded Monday night had a total attendance 21,130, the event's second smallest audience in the past decade. McKenzie Arena hosted the SoCon tournament for a third and potentially final time, and this was the first in which the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga failed to play in the championship game.

UTC was eliminated in Saturday night's quarterfinals by Furman before a tournament-high crowd of 5,597.

"It's not something that we're disappointed about," SoCon senior associate commissioner Geoff Cabe said Wednesday. "You always want to have large crowds, but we are kind of dependent on the teams with the biggest followings advancing. That's kind of been the history of our tournament, and it will continue to be the history of our tournament."

The previous two SoCon tournaments in Chattanooga were staged in 2005 and '09, and each had a total attendance in excess of 24,500. Wofford's win over the College of Charleston on Monday was played in front of just 3,374, and the lack of walkup crowds both Sunday and Monday has Greater Chattanooga Sports & Events Committee president Scott Smith readjusting an earlier projection.

Smith had hoped to come close to breaking even but now fears there could be a loss of $20,000 or more once all the expenses are in, and that factors in the $50,000 reduction the league gave the committee this year for agreeing to move last year's event to Charlotte.

"There will definitely be a financial loss," Smith said. "I'm not too excited."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.