Remember When We Packed 36,102 Into Kalamazoo’s Waldo Stadium?
Grab a seat, it's story time. And this is a story from about twenty-two years ago. Western Michigan's annual football home opener is known as Comm-University Night. (Tomorrow, September 11th, the Broncos host Illinois State at 5pm)
As I remember it, the Comm-University name started in the early 1990's, and when current athletic director Kathy Beauregard took over in 1997, she kept it going and, in fact, built on it. Western's football program has had its share of ups and downs over the years, but in the 35 years I've lived here, attendance-wise the late 1990's were a high point, and then a few years ago, the P.J. Fleck years were the pinnacle in performance, culminating with the trip to the Cotton Bowl.
But for all the naysayers who say Kalamazoo won't support anything, sure, there's some truth to that, but if you look at the late 1990's, you might change your thinking at little. Take a look at this: The all-time Bronco attendance record was set on Comm-University Night 1998, when 35,107 parked their fannies into Waldo Stadium. That record lasted one whole season. Comm-University 1999 saw 35,874 enter the building. That record stood up for....well, three weeks. On October 2nd, 1999, 36,102 fans saw the Broncos host the hated Central Michigan Chippewas. That '99 season saw the team set a new average attendance record of 26,874, with three crowds topping 30,000.
Why don't we see crowds like that all the time? Good question. When Michigan State was here in 2015, there were over 30,000 at the game, so we know it can be done, but it hasn't happened consistently for a while.