Gerard Borne/The Lion’s Roar
The university baseball team has seen a gradual increase in home game attendance since Matt Riser became the head coach.
Since 2015, the team has been leading in the Southland Conference for fan attendance. In 2014, the university saw its largest attendance at a home game with 3,747 showing up in the 7-3 loss against Louisiana State University. During the 2016 season, the university saw its largest series crowd against the University of Louisiana at Monroe with 4,375 fans in attendance. In addition to the two record breaking years, the university saw its largest season attendance record broken with 43,463 fans in attendance at Pat Kenelly Diamond in Alumni Field in 2018.
Jay Artigues, director of athletics, attributed the increase in attendance to the atmosphere at alumni field.
“Our stadium has that ‘back in time’ feel that goes with college baseball,” explained Artigues. “We continually see our crowds grow because we have one of the best game day atmospheres not only in the state but in the country at our baseball games. Our games are a fun family atmosphere that keeps the fans returning to The Pat.”
He also believes school rivalries contribute to attendance.
“It brings fans to our campus that might not otherwise be here,” said Artigues. “Playing in-state opponents such as the University of Louisiana at Monroe, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech helps lure a crowd. The state schools are close enough for their fans to drive as well as their students.”
Riser shared his thoughts on the 2014 matchup against Louisiana State University.
“There was a couple things that went into that game,” said Riser. “It was my first home game as the new head coach at Southeastern. There was a lot of overwhelming emotions that went into it, to see the Southeastern support was great. There was tons of LSU fans, but there was a ton of green and gold in the stadium.”
Scottie Sanders, senior infielder, remembers seeing the fans in the Pat Kenelly Diamond when the university faced off against LSU.
“We have some of the best fans in college baseball,” shared Sanders. “It is an awesome experience to play in a big game like that. All of our games, the fans show up and impress us. Last year against LSU, there was the most rowdiest fans, and one game that I will never forget. There was not a single seat open.”
Sanders believes the addition of outfield bleachers would be beneficial.
“In other stadiums I have been to, there’s always those few fans who are heckling you from the outfield,” expressed Sanders. “I think it would cool if they added outfield bleachers.”
However, Artigues’ opinion on additional bleachers differs.
“It’s rare that we sell out, and having the number of seats we have gives us a cozy home-field advantage,” stated Artigues.
Riser explained the increase in fan attendance.
“We really do have some of the best fans in college baseball,” said Riser. “We play a competitive form of baseball that people love to watch. It’s not just two very good teams squaring off against one another on the field. You have the game day interactions, the video board and the awesome family atmosphere.”
The next home baseball game will be held on April 3 against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.