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College sports will become the incubator

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Sure, college football is huge. And March Madness deserves its nickname. But many of the more niche sports also play a key role in cementing the relationship between schools and their alumni (and their money). While most other sports do need a subsidy, that doesn’t mean some of them aren’t packing in crowds. Here’s our list of where it’s happening in college’s “other sports.”

All around the country, sports fans are discovering what they’re looking for in college’s other sports. This is how it starts, and slowly, quietly, out of the limelight, it grows. Women’s college D1 basketball this past season was attended by over 8 million fans

  • Utah Gymnastics averages 14,682 fans in attendance at Utah’s Huntsman Center, which seats 15,000. (Women’s gymnastics meets are the third-most viewed events on the Pac-12 Network.)

  • Minnesota Hockey The Golden Gophers get over 11,000 fans per game.

  • LSU Baseball The Tigers average 10,726 at the gate, and that’s for 34 games. The College World Series is also a standout, bringing in over 23,000 per game and over 350,000 for the series.

  • Iowa Wrestling averages over 8,300 fans per dual meet. For the 2015 season opener against Oklahoma State, they moved the meet to Kinnick Football Stadium. 42,287 fans watched their Hawkeyes win.

  • Track & field at Oregon gets 7,500 fans to dual meets. But the big numbers are at the multi-school relays. The Texas Relays and Drake Relays attract 15,000 fans per day, while the Penn Relays had 45,000 fans on the final day and over 100,000 in total.

  • Hawaii Volleyball The Rainbow Wahine are can’t-miss entertainment in Honolulu. The women’s team has led the nation in attendance for two decades—averaging over 6,800 fans now. Top-ranked volleyball teams all over the country are regularly drawing over 5,000 fans to important games.

  • Soccer in Portland and Louisville The women’s team in Portland and the men’s team in Louisville lead the nation in attendance, both with over 3,000 fans on average—but the game of the season is always on the coast of California, when UCSB plays Cal Poly in front of 14,000 fans.

  • Navy Lacrosse pulls in over 3,800 fans per game.

  • Alabama Softball averages over 3,000 fans. The College Softball World Series sells over 75,000 tickets.

  • TCU Tennis Over 2,000 fans.

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