UCLA basketball attendance bouncing back from lowest ever

UCLA is averaging 13,376 fans since conference play began. Pauley Pavilion’s capacity is 13,800

The UCLA basketball team’s attendance this season is its highest in 21 years. After it’s sixth sellout crowd of the season Saturday night witnessed a 102-70 win over USC, Pauley Pavilion is averaging 10,853 fans this season. The building’s capacity is 13,800.

The most impressive number is the 13,376 average attendance for conference games, nearly 5,000 more than UCLA averaged for Pac-12 games last season. UCLA coach Steve Alford said the crowd was the difference in UCLA winning its most significant home game of the season Feb. 9 against then-No. 5 Oregon.

A crowd of 13,659 on Saturday helped UCLA’s average this season surpass that of the 1997-98 team. UCLA’s best attendance since the season after John Wooden retired remains 11,872 fans in 1995-96, the season after the school’s most recent national championship.

Attendance dropped at an alarming rate each of the first two years of the Alford era, bottoming out at 7,711 two years ago, the lowest average in the history of Pauley Pavilion. That number went up to 8,073 last season, but the Bruins’ ranked 60th in the country in attendance for the second consecutive season.

There has been a robust increase this season at the home of the No. 5 team in the country. After the Bruins suffered through a losing season last year, the explanation seems simple. UCLA (24-3, 11-3) is the highest-scoring team in the nation and probably the most entertaining product in college basketball.

The show run by freshman point guard Lonzo Ball has drawn celebrities like Jessica Alba, Snoop Dogg, Vince Vaughn and Derrick Rose. That doesn’t include the parade of NBA scouts and general managers, including Magic Johnson and Pat Riley.