BYU basketball: Cougars' 'performance' at the Marriott Center this season has been mighty impressive

By Ryan Teeples

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19 2013 9:30 a.m. MST

BYU fans congratulate the players after the Cougars won the NCAA basketball game between BYU and Cal State Northridge, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. BYU's attendance has steadily improved during Dave Rose's tenure as head coach.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Did you know that the performance of BYU's basketball team at the Marriott Center has improved significantly over the last eight years — including the last two? And this year’s performance is better than any of the past decade except 2010-11, Jimmer Fredette’s senior year.

Don’t believe me? Wanna bet?

It’s true. Attendance at BYU home games is significantly higher this season than any other recent season, except that unusual, special Year of The Jimmer.

OK, so I tricked you. You hear the word “performance” and you think wins and losses.

But I’m a businessman. I can’t help but look at dollars and cents. And this year, the numbers are pretty good at the turnstiles. Cougar Tails — those delicious, BYU Food Services-produced maple bars — are flying off the racks before halftime at the Marriott Center and they keep adding new Cougar Club parking lots.

Those are certainly good things. But before we get to breaking down home attendance and on-the-court performance, let’s get a national perspective on that hallowed, caffeine-free basketball venue named after J. Willard.

A College Basketball Destination

When you think of basketball hotbeds worldwide, places like Tobacco Road, Lawrence, Kan., Lexington, Ky., Middle of Nowhere, Ind., or even New York City’s famed street courts come to mind.

But what about beloved Provo, Utah?

A few weeks ago BYU’s Marriott Center was nominated for “Best Road Trip Destination” in college basketball in a contest put on by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Geico and CBS Sports.

The nomination cites Provo’s year-round beauty, campus activity, and the loud, raucous Marriott Center crowd on game day. There’s no mention of tunnel singing or ballroom dance, thankfully.

The contest winner will be announced during a college basketball show April 6 on CBS Sports, surely wedged between confusing ads involving people who are impossibly happy after their car breaks down, and reptiles (maybe amphibians?) who miraculously speak but with a grating Cockney accent.

The nomination also pointed out that the Cougars have won more than 93 percent of their games in the MC under head coach Dave Rose.

But fans and opponents already know what a great home environment the Marriott Center is. And despite a lackluster year from BYU in terms of on-home-court performance this season, the place is still formidable.

This even after BYU moved its student section and confusingly renamed it "ROC," or Roar of Cougars. It's pronounced “rock,” not to be confused with the hilarious Fox TV show of the 1990s or the Republic of China (aka Taiwan).

Marriott Center attendance is up at an impressive clip

Fans know this season’s home slate includes a loss to a middling-at-best San Francisco squad, and a dagger-through-the-heart, half-court, game-losing shot by a ferocious, mouthpiece-sucking dude from Australia.

But what many BYU hoops supporters may not know is that attendance is up at an impressive clip. As you’ll see from the chart below, the Marriott Center fan count is up by a thousand folks, or nearly 7 percent.

Sure, some of that could be credited to the new Cosmo Kids program where cheapskates can get tickets to two games “for their kids” at a heavily discounted rate. (I bought two, and it’s a great program for the little ones.) But that doesn’t change the fact that the athletic department and ticket office is getting incremental ticket and concession sales and continuing the growth trend.

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