10,111 was the official attendance for Slippery Rock’s football game against Indiana (Pa.) on October 14th. The population of Slippery Rock is 3,583, barely a third of that number.
“The stars aligned, the weather was perfect,” SRU Athletic Director Paul Lueken said. “The opponent was who they are, the school down south, it was Homecoming. I don’t know if we could have done anything much better to attract people to a football game.”
The football game was the headliner for SRU’s homecoming and it showed with the sheer number of former student-athletes that returned for the game.
“I did see a lot of not only football alumni but alumni from other sports,” Lueken said. “To me, that says a lot about Slippery Rock and the athletics that we have here, that they want to come back and be part of what we are. It’s cool.”
The listed capacity of Mihalik-Thompson Stadium is 10,000. Even if it was by a slim margin, the game versus IUP did exceed the seating limits of the stadium, a rare feat for a non-Division I school.
“That’s a huge feat, even if your stadium only seats 5000 if you exceed the seating capacity that’s great,” Lueken said. “The home side was pretty much jam-packed, a lot of people standing along the fence, and the visitor side was really full too. The stadium lodge was overflowing, there were 175 folks up there.”
Of course, the opponent helped in the attendance; archival IUP always draws a big crowd for Slippery Rock.
“That intense rivalry we have with IUP played a huge role in it because they brought a lot of people,” Lueken said.
The Green and White were able to come out hot to a 10-0 lead early in the game, and the atmosphere at that moment was truly something special.
“This team isn’t traditionally a fast starter, but we represented ourselves very well, we gave our fans something to really be excited about,” Lueken said.
Although a win would have been ideal to cap off a special homecoming weekend, the game was still a sizable contributor to the homecoming experience.
“I don’t think it was a huge downer if we win, everything is perfect,” Lueken said. “The excitement was still there, people seemed to still be enjoying themselves after the game. People were excited to be back, and they got to see a pretty good football game.”