Filling Byrd

Excerpt from

Football stadiums in the Atlantic Coast Conference generally are less full than they were last year.

The 12 ACC teams have been filled to only 86.9 percent capacity this season. According to league data, its stadiums were roughly 90 percent full during the 2010 regular season. Both figures are well below the high of 94.5 percent set in 2004, the year Miami and Virginia Tech joined the league.

Losing teams, stadium expansion and scheduling have all contributed to the attendance decline.

Only three schools have shown significant improvement in attendance: Wake Forest, Maryland and Florida State. At five ACC schools — Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina — the stands are markedly emptier than they were last year.

“What we want to continue to do is to have people keep coming back,’’ first-year Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. “If we play, they’ll be even more enthusiastic.’’

Meanwhile Maryland is enjoying somewhat of a boom; Byrd Stadium has been nearly 89 percent full this season, compared to 76 percent last year. The Terrapins’ boost may have been a result of a home schedule that opened with Miami and included local draws West Virginia and Towson and unbeaten Clemson. The Miami and West Virginia games, Edsall’s first two at the school, drew two of the eight largest crowds in stadium history.

“The crowds have been good the first two games, and then I know people maybe didn’t think we’d get the kind of crowds we got for Temple and Towson,’’ Edsall said. “When you have 54, 55,000 and they’re all cheering for you it makes it very difficult for the others teams. … What you want to be able to do is protect your home turf.’’

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