After a season in which attendance for University of Wisconsin football games fell to its lowest level in a quarter century, a potential indicator of 2019 crowd sizes has slipped.
Sales of season ticket packages for the home schedule that opened Sept. 7, dropped by 2% compared to the 2018 season, according to figures reported by the school athletic department.
UW experienced a net loss of 1,391 season ticket packages over last season, most of it coming from general seating areas as opposed to suites, clubs and student sections.
The 14th-ranked Badgers have a season ticket base of 65,149 for the seven home games at 80,321-seat Camp Randall Stadium. Saturday's game against Central Michigan drew an announced crowd of 74,437.
That was the second-smallest attendance for a UW home opener in the last 22 years. The only smaller crowd for the first home game of the year in that span was 74,145 last year for a Friday night game against Western Kentucky.
A year ago, home UW football games averaged 77,153 fans, the lowest figure since 1993. Of that, 66,540 was through season tickets. Only two games surpassed the 80,000 mark in announced attendance, which represents the number of tickets sold and distributed: Sept. 15 against BYU (80,720) and Oct. 6 against Nebraska (80,051).
The 74,038 announced attendance for the Nov. 24 regular-season finale against Minnesota was the lowest against the rival at Camp Randall since 1992.
Mertz to redshirt
True freshman quarterback Graham Mertz made his debut in Wisconsin's 61-0 rout of Central Michigan on Saturday, completing 4-of-5 passes for 35 yards and leading a scoring drive during his only series.
"It was great," Mertz said. "I couldn't ask for a better experience. I was just glad to get my first snaps at home, too. It was a blast."
But it might be one of the few times this season that Badgers fans see the highest-rated quarterback recruit ever to come to Wisconsin, as Mertz acknowledged after the game that he'll likely redshirt this season. He's allowed to play in four games without losing a season of eligibility.
"They said that really to use those four would be pretty sweet," Mertz said. "I am redshirting. It's more just getting my opportunity in those four games."
Later, Mertz said he hasn't had a formal discussion with the coaching staff about redshirting. Still, that seems like a likely scenario considering how well Coan has played through the first two weeks of the season.
Ranked No. 14
Wisconsin moved up three spots to No. 14 in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The Badgers (2-0) cruised easily past the Central Michigan Chippewas 61-0 on Saturday, Sept. 7, in their home opener at Camp Randall Stadium. UW has outscored its opponents 110-0 through two games after opening the season with a 49-0 victory at South Florida on Aug. 30.