ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lobo football will be playing at LSU this weekend. While attendance at the home games looks low, UNM says they’re turning a corner.

With the rivalry NMSU game in Las Cruces this year and one of the marquee games against Boise State already behind them, it’s unclear how attendance will look for the rest of the season.

Just five years ago, the Lobos used to average home-game attendance in the 20,000s. Since the 2018-2019 season, average home game attendance dropped to numbers closer to 15,000. But, a UNM athletic spokesperson said the numbers are actually encouraging. He said the comparison is apples to oranges since only some seasons have the rivalry NMSU game at home, and teams coming off bowl seasons.

In an emailed statement the spokesperson said in part:

“Here are the numbers of games with 15K or more in attendance starting in 2018, which was the first season after a non-bowl year.

2022: 3 games of 15K or more (out of 3)

2021: 3 games of 15K or more (out of 6, one was NMSU)

2020: No home games due to pandemic.

2019: 2 games of 15K or more (out of 6, one being NMSU)

2018: 4 games of 15K or more (out of 6)

Removing NMSU from last year, attendance was 13,904 for the other five games, while this year through three games it is 15,531 … and that’s an increase of 1,627 fans per game, which is an increase of 11.7%.”

Still, 15,000 fans are only about 38% of stadium capacity. UNM athletics went on to say they are proud of their gameday experience.

“While it could always be better, we feel that we have done a great job with our gameday experience; with a fireworks show after Saturday night’s game, honoring teachers, bringing back former great teams to honor them, and many new things inside the stadium like improved concessions including our Grab-and-Go Express stands and new and different concessions items.  We have an improving team that is 2-1 and has improved each season under Coach Gonzales. We also hosted three in a row which is unusual for us to start the season, one on a holiday weekend and one on a Friday night on national TV which usually cuts into attendance,” the spokesperson said.

UNM Athletics is also hoping to attract new game-goers and fans through a partnership with the city. On Monday, UNM and the city announced a partnership with the Sunport.

Lobo highlights will be shown on the third floor and Lobo merchandise will be sold at the gift shop. Travelers can also get info on upcoming Lobo events.

“It’s going to help recruiting, it’s going to help enrollment, it’s going to help retention for our staff and group when they see this is one city, one university, and one state,” said Eddie Nuñez, UNM Athletics Director, at the press conference. The partnership with the Sunport will run at least through June 2023.