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CHARLOTTESVILLE -- In a venue whose official capacity is 61,500, fans are not likely to fill Scott Stadium this fall. UVa's football team is coming off its second straight losing season, and fifth in six years, and ticket sales were expected to be sluggish in 2014.
That's been the case. Virginia kicks off the season Saturday at noon against No. 7 UCLA at Scott Stadium. As the opener approaches, UVa's season ticket total is approximately 23,500. This season will mark the first time since 1995 that fewer than 25,000 season tickets are purchased.
"We understand our performance on the field needs to improve and our record over the last several seasons has turned some fans away," Virginia Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage said. "We're thankful for the thousands of fans that have made their commitment to Virginia football. Everyone's support is important to the success of the program, from recruiting to providing a home field advantage for our team."
Not since Sept. 12, 1998, when a crowd of 42,800 saw the Cavaliers defeat Maryland 31-19 at Scott Stadium -- whose official capacity then was 40,000 -- has a UVa home opener drawn fewer than 50,000.
That streak is likely to end this year, too. Athletics department officials are expecting a crowd in the mid-40,000s for the game against UCLA, based on single-game ticket sales and student attendance, which is generally highest for the first home game of the season.
The 2008 season-opener against Southern California, by comparison, drew an overflow crowd of 64,947, a Scott Stadium record.
In 2013, Virginia averaged 46,279 at its eight home games, which included visits from four opponents whose fans traveled well: BYU, Oregon, Clemson, and Virginia Tech. In 2005, by comparison, the Wahoos averaged 60,973 at their home games.
Since '05, average attendance at Scott Stadium has dropped each year from the previous season, with only two exceptions, in 2007 and in 2011. The figures are listed below.
* 60,973 in 2005 (7-5 record; six home games)
* 57,732 in 2006 (5-7 record; six home games)
* 59,824 in 2007 (9-4 record; six home games)
* 53,815 in 2008 (5-7 record; seven home games)
* 47,986 in 2009 (3-9 record; seven home games)
* 45,459 in 2010 (4-8 record; seven home games)
* 47,940 in 2011 (8-5 record; seven home games)
* 46,650 in 2012 (4-8 record; seven home games)
* 46,279 in 2013 (2-10 record; eight home games)
With single-game tickets on sale for every home game, momentum in ticket sales could be gained throughout the fall. In 2012, with a schedule similar to this year's, Virginia sold approximately 25,000 single-game tickets from Aug. 21 through the end of the season.
"I'm excited to see the 2014 team in action," Littlepage said. "I know they've worked extremely hard over the past eight months to improve. I hope Cavalier fans will come together, get behind this team, and play a role in their success."
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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