SAN JOSE -- Attendance has always been a hot-button topic at San Jose State, and it's something the Spartans are working to improve.
Season ticket sales are up 15 percent this season, with a base of about 2,600 -- still less than 10 percent of Spartan Stadium's capacity. In an attempt to boost the numbers, the Spartans will have postgame fireworks shows after Thursday's season opener against Sacramento State and the Sept. 27 game against Utah State.
Despite an 11-2 season last year, SJSU averaged just 10,789 fans per game. It was a large decrease from the 2011 average of 18,214, although the actual difference might not have been that dramatic.
Athletic director Gene Bleymaier, hired in May 2012, decided last year that the Spartans would report actual attendance -- the number of people in the stands. Schools often report paid attendance or tickets distributed, which can lead to inflated numbers.
"I just think we need to understand where we are and work to improve it," Bleymaier said. "I'm not one to just make up a number. That doesn't make any sense. I don't know what purpose that serves, and I don't think that makes us look better."
This year's home schedule, with games against San Diego State, Navy and Fresno State, should lead to better numbers, but Bleymaier isn't banking on simply a better team and better schedule leading to improvements.
"We've got to roll up our sleeves, and we've got to go out there and pound the pavement," Bleymaier said.
Coach Ron Caragher views the attendance issues as a challenge that "excites" him.
"Where there's challenges, there's so much room to grow and develop," Caragher said.
He said his preference is to have at least six home games every year -- the Spartans will have only five in 2014 -- and prefers home and home arrangements such as the ones with Oregon State and BYU.
"If we can't do those things, then I'm going to look for a guarantee game that can help our budget," Bleymaier said.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.