Update: after an original estimate of 6,800 fans, the official attendance number rose to 8,205. The article below has been updated.
8,205 fans turned out for the 2017 Men’s NCAA Championship: a 199% increase over last year’s championship game (in other words, the attendance nearly tripled from 2016 through 2017). That figure makes it the highest-attended men’s NCAA Championship games since 2012, where UC Irvine beat USC. Like Ohio St., that game featured a home team – USC hosted.
In fact, the home-court crowd on Saturday counted more fans than the last two national championship games combined, at Penn State and Stanford, respectively.
Depending on where the final attendance numbers land, this will be either the 6th most-attended NCAA Championship in Men’s Volleyball in the history of the NCAA, which held its first such championship in 1970. The highest-attended match was the 1998 championship match, where 9822 fans turned out to watch UCLA beat Pepperdine. That match was played in Hawaii – where the local population is volleyball-crazy.
This is the 5th time that St. John Arena has hosted this championship, and the largest crowd among those 5 events. Not coincidentally, it is also the first of those 5 in which Ohio State has participated.
St John Arena, originally built in 1956 for Ohio State’s basketball team, holds 13,276 fans in its maximum capacity.
The 2016 women’s NCAA Championship game, which was hosted just down the road in December at the much larger Nationwide Arena, had 17,435 spectators.
St. John NCAA Championship Hosting History
- 1978: Pepperdine def. UCLA 3-2, 4.756 spectators
- 1983: UCLA def. Pepperdine 3-0, 3,638 spectators
- 1997: Stanford def. UCLA 3-2, 3,798 spectators
- 2007: UC Irvine def. IPFW 3-1, 4,755 spectators
- 2017: Ohio St. def. BYU 3-0, 8,205 spectators
All-Time Most-Attended NCAA Championship Matches
- 9,822 spectators, 1998 – UCLA def. Pepperdine 3-0 (Hawaii hosted)
- 9,809 spectators, 1984 – UCLA def. Pepperdine 3-1 (UCLA hosted)
- 9,612 spectators, 2012 – UC Irvine def. USC 3-0 (USC hosted)
- 8,952 spectators, 1987 – UCLA def. USC 3-0 (UCLA hosted)
- 8,482 spectators, 1993 – UCLA def. CSUN 3-0 (UCLA hosted)
- 8,205 spectators, 2017 – Ohio St. def. BYU 3-0 (Ohio St. hosted)
- 8,026 spectators, 1999 – BYU def. Long Beach St. 3-0 (UCLA hosted)
- 8,000 spectators, 1975 – UCLA def. UCSB 3-1 (UCLA hosted)
- 7,908 spectators, 1994 – Penn St. def. UCLA 3-2 (IPFW hosted)
- 7,762 spectators, 1973 – San Diego St. def. Long Beach St. 3-1 (San Diego St. hosted)
- 7,688 spectators, 1996 – UCLA def. Hawaii 3-2 (UCLA hosted)
- 7,391 spectators, 1992 – Pepperdine def. Stanford 3-0 (Ball St. hosted)
- 7,244 spectators, 1989 – UCLA def. Stanford 3-1 (UCLA hosted)
- 6,852 spectators, 2005 – Pepperdine def. UCLA 3-2 (UCLA hosted)
There are a few trends to be gleaned her. One, not a surprise, is that the must successful team in NCAA volleyball history, UCLA draws huge crowds. They’ve been involved in 5 of the top 8 highest attended championship in history, and Pauley Pavilion has hosted 8 of the 14 highest attended championships.
Further, 9 of the top 14 highest-attended championships in history have involved the home team. 8 of those 9 games have seen the home team win.