Attendance has been dropping at a yearly rate of between 4%-5% for the bowls for the each of the last four seasons. Some Bowls saw drops over more than 10,000 fans between 2015 and 2016, and part of that can be explained away by the match ups. This years Citrus Bowl games between Louisville and LSU drew 16,500 fewer fans than last years game with Michigan vs. Florida.
But some of the older more established games are also feeling the pinch. The Sugar Bowl (OU vs. Auburn) drew just 54,077, the smallest crowd to witness the bowl game since 1939. The Cotton Bowl (Wisconsin vs. Western Michigan) had its smallest audience since 1998 (59,615).
If you wanted to point to anything that would suggest a stronger relationship with the HOD Bowl, it would be the above coupled with this:
Date Bowl Team Team B 16 ATT 15 Att Dec. 27 Heart of Dallas Bowl Army North Texas 39,117 20,229
NT and Army combined to just about double the attendance of the previous year.