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Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

College football attendance dipped to its lowest mark in 22 years last season, with every Power 5 conference other than the ACC experiencing a decline.

The big picture: This alarming development is driven by numerous factors, many of which impact society on a macro-level and are out of a university's control (i.e. technology and consumption habits). But other factors — like ticket sales, game day experiences and stadium amenities — can be tinkered with and improved, and athletic departments across the country are laser-focused on doing just that.

General changes:

  • Improved sales teams: Schools are beefing up their previously understaffed ticketing departments and deploying more aggressive tactics (via email marketing, ad retargeting, etc.).
  • Alcohol policies: The Southeastern Conference recently passed a rule that allows its members to sell alcohol at games.
  • Downsizing: Over the past few years, the trend in not only college football stadiums but all sports has shifted from quantity (attendance numbers) to quality (fan experience).

Specific examples:

  • Alabama is rolling out a program to reward students who stick around through the fourth quarter. How it works: Students who "check in" on an app to confirm they're still in the stadium will receive bonus points that will help their standing regarding future tickets.
  • Tennessee is testing something called the Vol Pass, which guarantees fan seats all season but doesn't lock them into one seat or section. Fans log into an app every Monday to pick their seats for the coming Saturday.

What they're saying:

"I went to a Disney seminar one time and they said, 'What do you think is the goal that we aspire for Disney?' You sit there and scratch your head and you think, 'To make people happy?' They told us no — it was to get you to come back to your next visit. That's really what we have to be motivated by ... That's what's driving a lot of us."
— Kenny Mossman, Oklahoma's senior associate athletics director, to The Athletic

Go deeper: Attendance woes were inevitable

Go deeper

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Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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