There are a lot of BTBers who made their way out to Oxnard, CA for Dallas Cowboys training camp this season (we even met up together), and if you were out there you may have noticed that the crowds felt thinner than in previous years.
That wasn’t your imagination. The Cowboys have left Oxnard which means everything that happened there is getting finalized, including attendance numbers. There was quite a dip in Cowboys attendance, something that isn’t often said about the Dallas-based franchise. Almost 17,000 less people attended training camp in Oxnard.
Dallas Cowboys training camp practice attendance in Oxnard, Calif.:— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 16, 2018
2017: 55,432 fans (16 practices)
2018: 38,797 fans (16 practices) https://t.co/UOK8nS6CO3
As the Dallas Morning News notes, based on the 16 practices that took place the Cowboys lost over 1,000 fans in each one from training camp last year. There are a lot of factors that could be at play here, some football-related and others not so much.
The reality from a football perspective is that the Cowboys went into training camp last season on a serious high coming off of a 13-3 season and featuring an injection of youth in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. They disappointed over the season and perhaps it really is as simple as less people are as excited to watch them play football as there were a year ago.
There are other points of controversy and speculation about NFL viewership overall, including protests, concussions and safety, and just an overall drop in television viewership over the last few years. All of these factors could play into it, too. The only quantifiable data point here is that the Cowboys lost over 1,000 fans per practice.
Training camp attendance isn’t exactly the most critical thing for NFL teams, but it’s definitely a bit jarring to see the Cowboys stumble here. If attendance for their actual games were to dip then there would definitely be a bit more reason to raise your eyebrow, but for now it’s just surprising and a bit of an indication at the enthusiasm level for the team.