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2022 Football

Deion Sanders, JSU drive 2022 HBCU football attendance up

The top 25 attended HBCU football games drew close to 1 million fans in 2022. Jackson State and Deion Sanders drove the numbers up.

Deion Sanders and Jackson State exerted outsize influence and helped HBCU football attendance shoot up in 2022. 

The Magic City Classic again topped the list with 67,532 fans in stands for the Oct. 29 battle at Birmingham’s Legion Field between Alabama A&M and Alabama State.

It along with the Nov. 26 Bayou Classic in New Orleans at the Caesars’ Superdome were the only games to draw above 60,000 fans this year. The annual Bayou battle between Louisiana HBCU rivals Southern and Grambling State drew 62,337 fans to New Orleans. 

The November 19 Florida Classic was not far behind with an unofficial 55,000 packing Orlando’s Camping World Stadium for the showdown between HBCU Florida rivals Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman. A crowd of 53,971 packed the Cotton Bowl on October 1 in Dallas for the annual meeting of Grambling State and Prairie View A&M at the State Fair Classic.

THE TOP TEN HIGHEST ATTENDANCE AT 2022 

BLACK COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES 

1) MAGIC CITY CLASSIC – Oct. 29, Legion Field, Birmingham, AL

Alabama State vs. Alabama A&M – 67,532

2) BAYOU CLASSIC – Nov. 26, Ceasar’s Superdome, New Orleans, LA

Southern vs. Grambling State – 62,337

3) FLORIDA CLASSIC – Nov. 19, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL

Florida A&M vs. Bethune-Cookman – 55,000

4) STATE FAIR CLASSIC – Oct. 1 – Cotton Bowl – Dallas

Grambling State vs. Prairie View A&M – 53,971

5) JACKSON STATE HOME GAME – Oct. 29, Veterans Stadium, Jackson, MS

Southern at Jackson State – 53,885

6) SWAC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – Dec. 3, Veterans Stadium, Jackson, MS
Jackson State vs. Prairie View A&M – 53,754 

7) JACKSON STATE HOMECOMING – Oct. 22, Veterans Stadium, Jackson, MS

Jackson State vs. Campbell – 51,596

8) SOUTHERN HERITAGE CLASSIC – Sept. 10, Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN

Jackson State vs. Tennessee State – 51,351

9) CELEBRATION BOWL – Dec. 17, Mecedes Benz Dome, Atlanta, GA

Jackson State vs. North Carolina Central – 49,670

10) ORANGE BLOSSOM CLASSIC – Sept. 4, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami

Jackson State vs. Florida A&M – 39,907

HIGHEST HBCU FOOTBALL ATTENDANCE: The next 15

(11) DUKE’S MAYO CLASSIC – Sept. 3, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

NC A&T vs. NC Central – 35,798

12) TUSKEGEE HOMECOMING – Nov. 5, Abbott Stadium, Tuskegee, AL

Miles at Tuskegee – 35,275

13) HBCU NYC FOOTBALL CLASSIC – Sept. 17, MetLife Stadium, E. Ruth’fd, NJ

Howard vs. Morehouse – 35,042

14) GULF COAST CHALLENGE – Nov. 12, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL

Alabama A&M vs. Jackson State – 32,300

15) W. C. Gorden Classic – Sept. 17, Veterans Stadium, Jackson, MS

Grambling State at Jackson State – 34,451
16) ALABAMA STATE HOMECOMING – Oct. 8, ASU Stadium, M’gomery, AL

Jackson State at Alabama A&M – 31,334

17) ALCORN STATE HOME GAME  – Nov. 19 – Spinks Stadium, Lorman, MS

Jackson State at Alcorn State – 31,017

18) JACKSON STATE HOME GAME – Sept. 24, Veterans Stadium, Jackson, MS

Mississippi Valley State at Jackson State – 28,265

19) BETHUNE-COOKMAN HOME GAME  – Oct. 15, TIAA Bank Stadium, J’ville, FLA

Jackson State vs. Bethune-Cookman – 22,373 

20) TEXAS SOUTHERN HOME GAME – Nov. 5 – PNC Stadium, Houston

Jackson State at Texas Southern – 21,092 

21) SOUTHERN HOMECOMING – Oct. 29, Mumford Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA

Virginia Lynchburg at Southern – 23,489

22) NORFOLK STATE HOMECOMING, Oct. 15, Price Stadium, Norfolk, VA

Delaware State at Norfolk State – 22,478

23) NC A&T HOMECOMING – Oct. 29, Truist Stadium, Greensboro, NC

Campbell at NC A&T – 21,500

24) SWAC/MEAC CHALLENGE – Aug. 27, Center Parc Stadium, Atlanta, GA

Howard vs. Alabama State – 21,088

25) ALCORN STATE HOMECOMING, Oct. 22, Spinks Stadium, Lorman, MS

Texas Southern at Alcorn State – 20,645

TOTAL                (2022 – TOTAL 954,149 – 25 games over 20,000 – 38,165 average

(2021 – TOTAL 608,881  – 17 games over 20,000) 35,816 average

HBCU football attendance: Deion Sanders and JSU left their mark

Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and his Jackson State Tigers have been the main driver of the attendance numbers going up over the past two seasons. They were certainly in evidence for other top draws. The 2022 season saw 25 games top the 20,000 mark in fan attendance over 17 from last season.

Those 25 games drew 954,159 spectators and averaged 38,165 fans per game. All 13 games of JSU’s 12-1 season were on the list.

The Tigers broke their own FCS home attendance record set in 2021. JSU attracted an average of 44,410 fans to the five games played at Jackson’s Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium this season. It topped the previous record of 42,293 set a year ago.

Just to understand Coach Prime’s effect, JSU attracted an FCS best of 33,762 home fans in 2019.

Deion Sanders, HBCU football
Jackson State and Deion Sanders had big crowds everywhere in 2022.

HBCU football attendance: Jackson State in 2022

The Tigers had four games that topped 50,000 in attendance including three home games – an Oct. 22 homecoming date vs. Campbell (51,596), an Oct. 29 game vs. Southern (53,885) and a SWAC Championship game rematch against Southern in Jackson (53,754) on Dec. 3. 

But Coach Prime and the Tigers were also big draws on the road. They packed 51,352 into a Sept. 10 Southern Heritage Classic matchup with Tennessee State and 39,907 in Miami at the Orange Blossom Classic vs. Florida A&M on Sept. 4. In its other neutral site games, Sanders’ Tigers had 22,373 for an Oct. 15 match up in Jacksonville, Fla. with Bethune-Cookman, 32,300 for a Gulf Coast Challenge battle with Alabama A&M in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Nov. 12 and 49,670 for its season-ending national championship game in the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium vs. North Carolina Central on Dec. 3.

The five neutral site games involving JSU averaged 39,120 fans. JSU attracted an average of 27,814 fans for its three away games on HBCU rival campuses,

Deion Sanders, JSU drive 2022 HBCU football attendance up
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