SPRINGFIELD - As the first rounds of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Basketball Championships come to an end, it's the member schools who are carrying the weight in attendance. The local fans appear to be absent, something that will most likely change as the weekend progresses.
Thursday's first round women's games opened the tournament with 575 fans. As the women's first round continued, Friday's afternoon games brought in 1,855 fans.
Marist was the clear winner for bringing in a crowd, as their "Red Fox Nation" filled buses headed for the MassMutual Center, igniting the arena for their men's first round game Friday night. The boisterous crowd was primarily responsible for the evening's attendance of 2,038.
What is missing is the crowd from a much closer destination - Springfield. While the member schools are providing a good base for attendance, what is needed are local fans to fill the remaining seats.
As shown by the Marist fans, when a fan-base comes in to support their team, the MassMutual Center can become a somewhat hostile environment. The question is, can Western Massachusetts fans add to the crowds that the member schools are bringing in?
Zach Baru also blogs for Sports Business Boston. He can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at email@example.com.