Stanford University has a very strong football program, but not loud home crowds. In 2016, the Cardinal football team didn’t play in front of a sold-out crowd at home once.

The chances of Stanford playing in front of a sellout crowd at home in 2017 took a turn for the worse on Wednesday, eight months from their home opener.

According to CSN Bay Area, Stanford told thousands of season-ticket holders throughout the week that their ticket packages were increasing in pricing. In order to keep their seats, they have to make a big donation to the Buck/Cardinal Club athletic scholarship program. In short, they need to triple the amount they pay if they are in certain sections.

CSN Bay Area did a breakdown and some math behind two example seats:

For example, a fan with two season tickets who would normally pay $1,078 for two seats this season now must ante up an additional $1,000 per seat. Bottom line: a total tab of $3,078 instead of $1,078. With six home games, that translates to $513 per game for two tickets.

That’s a lot of money for Cardinal fans. Granted the team is very good and coming off a 10-3 season in which they won the Sun Bowl over North Carolina, but this is still hard to imagine. The original story mentioned a similar policy was implemented a couple years back at the Stanford basketball team’s home arena, Maples Pavillion, and as a result there have been more empty seats over the past couple years.

While college football attendance across the board went down in 2016 for the sixth reason in a row, Stanford really took a tumble in the attendance standings. Among the biggest decreases in home attendance among power five teams, Stanford ranked fourth: Missouri (20%), Minnesota (16%), Kentucky (12%), Stanford (11%), and Maryland (11%).

Stanford took the biggest fall in the Pac-12 as well, although the next two teams after Maryland were Pac-12 programs; USC (9%) and Arizona State (9%).

Among the 65 Power Five programs, Stanford ranked 52nd in average attendance. The Cardinal’s average attendance of 44,142 was one spot below 2-10 Rutgers who averaged 44,804 and ahead of Minnesota’s 43,814 average attendance. The worst average home attendance for a Power Five school belonged to Kansas at 25,828.

It’s a tough situation for Stanford to be in. The team is really good and has been for awhile now finishing in the top 15 six of the last seven years. On top of that, ticket prices are rising across the board in sports along with the price it costs to operate the program. However, the attendance hasn’t been great so that the university is in an awkward position where they need to increase ticket prices with inflation.

One of our own writers, Jill Whisnant, is a big Stanford fan, and wasn’t too happy with the news:

“I’m disappointed in this decision. Despite all of Stanford’s recent success, they still struggle to fill the stadium on any given week, save for games against USC, Cal, Oregon, and Notre Dame. In my opinion, the athletic department should focus on filling the stadium and thus creating a real home field advantage for the players, rather than trying to make additional money off a portion of season ticket holders. It seems that Stanford is prioritizing money over their loyal fans, which in turn impacts the in-game environment for the student-athletes. This sounds like something the San Francisco 49ers would do, and no one wants to emulate them right now.”

The timing of the ticket price raising this week also makes sense as on Thursday afternoon Stanford released its schedule for next season:

[CSN Bay AreaCBS Sports]

About David Lauterbach

David is a writer for The Comeback. He enjoyed two Men's Basketball Final Four trips for Syracuse before graduating in 2016. If The Office or Game of Thrones is on TV, David will be watching.