UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- More than 36,000 people showed up at the first Illini home game. Memorial Stadium can hold nearly twice that. It's the fewest number of fans to show up for a home opener since 2000. WCIA-3's Maggie Hockenberry has more.
Justin Swinford says he was surprised by how few fans he saw at the game.
"The first game usually draws a pretty big crowd."
Swinford is an alum and has been here the past five straight years.
"Attendance is pretty high for the first few games and then, once we get into the Big 10 season, it tends to stay pretty high, but it drops at the end of the season when the weather gets a little colder."
Team performance also plays a part in attendance. Last year, the Illini's record was 4 and 8. That was the fewest number of fans at a home opener in more than a decade.
"Attendance is usually a result of the football team's record, so, if they bring in more wins, they should bring in more people."
The university has changed some things this year; for example, the look. All Illini teams got new uniforms this year. Some came out to see them on the field, while others came for tradition.
"Tradition, it's what you do in Champaign-Urbana. You come to tailgate and support your school and livelihood of your town."
The game had a total of 36,234 fans, making Memorial Stadium just a little over half-full. But, for those who were there, it was worth it.
"That's just who we are and what we do. Come out and support every year and there's always hope that we'll continue to get better and turn it around."
This year's number was lower than last year by about 6,000. The 2013 home opener saw about 42,000 people.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- The match-up between Youngstown State and the Illini may have had a happy ending, but there were a lot fewer people cheering them on. There were more than 36,000 people at the opening game. Memorial Stadium can hold nearly twice that amount. This was one of the lowest-attended games ever.
Some people say it's because of the team's past records. Others say it was the chance of rain. Either way, attendance hasn't been this low since 2000. This year's number was lower than last year, but only by about 6,000 people. The 2013 home opener brought in around 42,000 people.
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