ASHWAUBENON - Even with declining attendance at the Resch Center, UW-Green Bay has decided to stay put, signing a new deal with the Resch Center to continue to play their home games off-campus through the 2017-2018 season.
That means some big challenges for the University to try to fill the seats.
A FOX 11 Fact Check found that since the 2008-2009 season, attendance is down more than 1,000 fans per game, about 25 percent, from 4,086 a game to 3,084.
While attendance is falling around the NCAA, nationally attendance is down just five percent in the same period, going from 5,185 fans per game to 4,921 per game last year.
So would moving back on campus help? The Phoenix don't necessarily think so.
"We'll hear the exact opposite from our community fans,” said interim Green Bay Athletic Director Dan McIver. “If you're out on campus, they consider that the far east side, it's quite the drive. It's kind of a catch 22. The connection to the community is really important to us. I truly believe being down here is critical for us keeping that connection."
While many universities play on campus, Horizon League neighbor UW-Milwaukee tried moving back on campus for games last season, but this season have decided to move back to downtown Milwaukee, saying they want to be more a part of the community.
The Phoenix say they never seriously considered moving back to campus to the Kress Events and its 4,000 fan capacity. They hope their efforts to help the students get to the Resch Center is what will make a difference.
"We all, as a team effort, we all have to get creative, continue to promote,” said Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle. “Get creative in everything we do, marketing, advertising, community, students. It's a team effort, and I think you're seeing that throughout division I basketball, throughout the country."
The university also says it’s who you play that matters sometimes. This year's schedule includes Wisconsin and a Tony Bennett coached Virginia team, which administrators are hoping will help the overall attendance numbers.
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