I saw a discussion among Stewart Mandel, Andy Staples, and Dan Wetzel about BCS attendance being up 3%. Mandel clarified that it was calculated as year-over-year growth, except for the National Championship game (which moves around among stadiums of different capacity), where they compared 2014 to 2010, to get a Rose Bowl-to-Rose Bowl comparison.
Anyway, I was curious what it would look like w/o the national championship, so I grabbed data from here http://www.bcsfootball.org/news/story?id=4809856 and then looked up the 2014 games attendance individually.
The answer? A fairer press release would have said “Rebound from last year’s poorly attended Sugar Bowl more than compensated for large drop in Fiesta Bowl attendance, with the rest of the games more or less even.”
The main reason 2014 is up so much is that the 2013 Sugar Bowl was pretty bad. Sugar Bowl attendance in 2014 was up 30.1% because the 2013 game between Louisville and Florida drew only 54,178 to the Superdome. The Fiesta Bowl was down 7.2%. The Rose Bowl was up 1.9% and the Orange Bowl was basically unchanged (7 more people, 72,080 rather than 72,073). The National Championship was up as well, 17.6%, but as mentioned above that’s a trick of the venue. Compared against 2010, the current championship was slightly down by 0.7%.
So it wasn’t false when they said the aggregate was up. But, just to be clear, if you take out the Sugar Bowl from the total, this is the historical trend:
In other words, given that the National Championship itself was slightly down, the real answer is that the Sugar Bowl was so poorly attended in 2013, it’s rebound back to normal made up for the poor attendance at the Fiesta Bowl. The rest is pretty much just noise, a slightly more popular Rose Bowl, slightly less popular National Championship and an even Orange Bowl.