A recent study of cellphone data in Brookings for 2019 showed a significant number of visitors to the South Dakota State University campus Oct. 26, the day ESPN College GameDay broadcast from the historic College Green near the Coughlin Campanile. The numbers, from a study conducted by the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, indicate a much higher number of people in attendance than originally projected.
“The report of more than 13,000 people attending the show was a pleasant surprise, but another great indication of how Jackrabbit Nation answers the call,” said SDSU Athletic Director Justin Sell. “Our initial estimate of 8,000 to 9,000 people in attendance was intentionally conservative and based on best available information at the time by looking at the amount of space being used. With people coming and going throughout the three hours of the show, especially during the last 60 minutes of the broadcast, we are confident the attendance number is accurate.”
The report breaks out the unique number of visitors who have cellphones in a specific area. The cellphones must be turned on with location activated to be counted and the report does not take into account individuals without cellphones or those whose cellphone may not have been turned on.
The data showed a total of 35,100 unique customers on all areas of campus during the day, with the highest totals of hourly visits reaching just over 20,000 between 10 and 11 a.m. — the last hour of the show — and around kickoff at 2 p.m., when more than 25,000 customers were recorded.
That afternoon’s game between the Jackrabbits and North Dakota State drew a school-record crowd of 19,371 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
“Clearly, we have a large area of campus to consider when looking at these numbers,” Sell said. “When you consider there at most there are 4,000 students living on campus during a normal week of classes, and the max number of people that could be in the tailgate area, we can support the attendance figure for GameDay. Many of our students living on campus attended GameDay and most tailgate areas were empty during that last hour of the show.”
SDSU became the first Football Championship Subdivision program to host GameDay since 2017 when the show visited James Madison. JMU estimated a crowd of 14,000 that day, the largest among FCS schools that have hosted the show.
“Obviously, schools at the FCS level don’t always have the opportunity to host a show of this size, scale and magnitude,” Sell said. “I continue to be amazed by the way our campus and community came together throughout that week to provide such a welcoming atmosphere for the premier college football pregame show. We certainly look forward to a day when we can host the show again.”