ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - UNM football is slowly but surely rebuilding a program that had devolved into a national laughing stock and bottomed out two years ago.
The poor performance didn't just hurt the Lobos' national reputation, it took a big chunk out of attendance, too.
In 2005, University Stadium averaged 38,341 fans for Lobo home games. In 2011, that number dropped to 20,026, the lowest average attendance for UNM football since 1992.
With new head coach Bob Davie at the helm, Lobo football is improving, winning four games last season. That was good enough to bump up attendance by about 10 percent.
Now, even though a Mountain West media poll pegged UNM as a division basement dweller this coming season, there's a sign the increased attendance is a trend.
"We are very happy with where our season tickets are right now," said Brad Hutchins with UNM Athletics. "Compared to last year at this time, [we're] about 1,000 season tickets up. We're at 9,100 right now and last year we were at 8,100."
That's a box office bump of around 12 percent.
Hutchins credits increased community support and expectations for the team and believes a new 80-foot-wide scoreboard will help make the fan experience better.
Also giving a boost to UNM attendance is the Rio Grande Rivalry, the annual game with New Mexico State, which will be played at University Stadium this year. Even when attendance was near rock bottom in 2011, the UNM-NMSU game drew more than 30,000 fans.
To cash in, UNM has upped the single game ticket prices for that game by $5 a ticket.
All other ticket prices for UNM football this year are staying flat.
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