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UL offensive tackle Robert Hunt (50) watches as junior running back Elijah Mitchell (15) marches into the end zone for a touchdown during the Cajuns' 38-28 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"We're very appreciative of all of our fans that came over to New Orleans. We had great alumni events last night and investor receptions. It was a very, very successful 48 hours over here in New Orleans."

UL director of athletics Bryan Maggard wasn't about to dance in celebration of Saturday's attendance figure, but he wasn't crying either.

The announced attendance at Saturday's UL-Mississippi State game in Mercedes-Benz Superdome was 22,440. As the week began, the figure was in the 14,000 range.

"I don't know if I'd call it OK, but it's certainly better than not being over 20,000," Maggard said. "But again, I'm very grateful for the ones that did show up."

The five New Orleans Bowl games in the coach Mark Hudspeth era ranged between attendances of 35,000 and 54,000.

The 22,000-plus was better than the 20,081 figure at Tulane in 1995, but it was the worst attendance for a UL game in the Superdome in more than two decades.

"I was very proud of the way our team performed and hopefully this will generate some excitement and set the tone for the season," Maggard said. "Absolutely, I thought our team showed a lot of guts. It came down to the final minute, we were in it the whole way, and that's with us making a lot of mistakes." 

In August 2016, UL and Mississippi State finalized a two-game contract with the first in Starkville on Nov. 3, 2018 and UL’s home game Saturday in the Superdome.

UL was given access to 40,975 tickets in the 100, 200 and 300 levels for Saturday.

According to the agreement, UL will receive 57 percent of net revenue from ticket sales while the visiting team gets 43 percent.

However, UL, as the home team, is responsible for all costs associated with utilizing the Superdome.

In the week leading up to the game, UL officials urged fans to purchase tickets to the season opener of Coach Billy Napier's second season.

“Our fan base needs to understand they truly can help propel this team into great competition on Saturday versus a very formidable opponent,” said Nico Yantko, UL's deputy director of athletics for external operations, during the week. “That’s going to be very fun for us to see, but we’ve got to continue to stress to our fan base that we need you there, because you can create a competitive edge for us.”

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.