Empty seats photo

On average, University of Wisconsin home football games in 2018 were played in front of the smallest crowds in at least 13 years.

Before you cast blame on UW students, however, consider that for the 12th straight year, they used their tickets at a higher rate than the general public did.

A report of the number of tickets scanned for games at Camp Randall Stadium, obtained via the state's open records law, showed that there were an average of more than 15,000 no-shows at Badgers games this season.

The average of 61,844 tickets scanned per game was the lowest in 13 years of data on record since UW started using ticket scanners in 2006.

Announced attendance figures represent the number of tickets sold or distributed for a game. The ticket scan count shows the actual number of people in the stadium, and in 2018, more than one in five tickets was unused.

The Badgers, who play Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York on Dec. 27, were a disappointing 7-5 in the regular season after opening at No. 4 in the Associated Press poll.

As a collective, UW students have faced scrutiny on the internet for the swaths of empty seats in their sections at the start of games.

But data released through another open records request showed that, even if they weren't there at kickoff, they used an average of 10,650 of the 13,233 student tickets sold in 2018, or 80.5 percent.

In the rest of the stadium, 79.6 percent of tickets were used (51,194 of 64,348 on average).

Over the 13 years of scanner data, students have used 87.7 percent of the tickets while the general public has used 83 percent.

This season, both groups had large numbers of empty seats for two November games, Nov. 3 against Rutgers and Nov. 24 against Minnesota.

There were 18,643 no-shows for the Rutgers game, representing more than a quarter of the announced attendance of 74,379. The Minnesota contest had 16,543 unused tickets.

The highest-attended event in 2018 was the Oct. 6 game against Nebraska, with 68,808 ticket scans. It was the first time since 2014 — and only the second time in the 13 years of records — that UW didn't host a game with at least 70,000 fans in Camp Randall.

In announced attendance, the average of 77,582 was the Badgers' lowest since 1998 — before the addition of suites and club seats to the stadium's east side — and second-lowest since the 1993-94 Rose Bowl season.

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