On a Saturday night in January at Great Southern Bank Arena, nearly 10,000 fans annually pack the stands and cheer as loud as they can. One of southwest Missouri’s great sports traditions, “The Final Countdown” blares before the ball is tipped off at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.

It’s the area’s main event and it feels that way. A pair of star-studded rosters take the floor with the arena’s music turned up, the powerful voice of the public address announcer calling the action and some type of fun going on over the scoreboard at seemingly every break in the game.

Once the final horn sounds, the best three days in Ozarks basketball come to an end. Around 12 hours later, the arena’s doors are opened again. When they do, the lack of buzz around the concourse comes as a shock. The building that felt so large the night before suddenly feels small and empty.

There’s just nothing fun about being there.

Missouri State has a problem as it trends toward its least attended men’s basketball season since 1975-76 (not counting the COVID-19-impacted year of 2020-21). While declining attendance at sporting events is a national trend, the environment Missouri State has at its basketball games and various other sporting events hasn’t helped create a game-day atmosphere that would make it a desirable place to watch the Bears play.


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