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Published: Wednesday, 1/23/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Ohio State ponders 12% hike in ticket prices

Plus steeper increases for marquee matchups at Horseshoe

BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
If approved by the Board of Trustees next week, the recommendation made in a recent Faculty Council meeting would increase public ticket prices across the board from $70 to $79 per game next season and institute a premium pricing structure. Up to two of the most popular games per year would be priced between $110 and $125 in 2013 and 2014, then $125 to $150 in 2015.
If approved by the Board of Trustees next week, the recommendation made in a recent Faculty Council meeting would increase public ticket prices across the board from $70 to $79 per game next season and institute a premium pricing structure. Up to two of the most popular games per year would be priced between $110 and $125 in 2013 and 2014, then $125 to $150 in 2015.
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COLUMBUS — Hoping to snag a ticket to the next Ohio State-Michigan game at the Horseshoe?

Be prepared to head to the bank first.

The Ohio State Athletic Council recently laid out a proposal that would raise public football ticket prices by at least 12 percent — and sometimes double that for designated signature contests. The Michigan game in 2016 could cost $175 per ticket.

If approved by the Board of Trustees next week, the recommendation made in a recent Faculty Council meeting would increase public ticket prices across the board from $70 to $79 per game next season and institute a premium pricing structure. Up to two of the most popular games per year would be priced between $110 and $125 in 2013 and 2014, then $125 to $150 in 2015.

In 2016, per the preliminary proposal, the Buckeyes’ year-end brush against UM — the only marquee home game that year — would cost $175 before prices drop back to between $125 and $150 the next season.

The premium structure would not impact students, who currently pay $32 per game and are allocated about 30,000 season tickets. Faculty and staff, who receive about 15,000 tickets, will continue to pay 80 percent of the public face value. (Those who make four-figure annual donations have the other season tickets.)

The proposed increase was first reported by the Buckeye-centric Web site Eleven Warriors. Athletic Council chairman Charlie Wilson, an OSU law professor, made the recommendation at a Dec. 6 meeting — audio of which was released this week..

When Wilson announced how much a seat at The Game could cost in 2016, the room filled with academics audibly gasped.

"Get a refund if they lose?" one person cracked.

Wilson emphasized in a phone interview the proposal the Athletic Council will make to the board for a vote next week is not final, and the group will meet again this week.

"There are a lot of considerations on the table," Wilson said. "Who knows where it will end up? I was just throwing out the things that were being considered, being decided. But nothing was final yet."

Wilson and athletic director Gene Smith said the considered price increases — the school’s first in three years — are to assure Ohio State remains among the nation’s few entirely self-sustaining athletic departments.

OSU reported $142 million in athletic revenue and $116 million in expenses for the last fiscal year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. Smith said the athletic department funneled $14 million to the university for academic initiatives and used the year-end profit for debt service and renovations, among other projects.

A tiered ticket structure would allow OSU to capture a larger percentage of the market value for high-demand tickets while bringing the school in line with other major programs.

"We’re probably the only school left in the conference that doesn't do premium tickets," Smith told The Blade on Tuesday. "Then you have to look at the secondary market and look at what's on StubHub, and what those prices are. I think that's what the Athletic Council looked at. Everywhere we go, we're a premium-price game."

Wilson said a study commissioned by the Athletic Council suggested OSU was leaving $40 to $60 million in annual football revenue on the table, though he said the proposed price hike is only to keep up with rising expenses.

"We don't have the luxury that some athletic departments have of going to the university [for money], and I don't want that ever to happen," he said. "It’s never happened. Our athletic department has always been self-sustaining, and if I have anything to do with it, it always will be. That’s why sometimes you have to cover your expenses to maintain 36 sports programs.

"There's no desire to get the maximum we can get. That’s not the goal. If you look at StubHub, we're not getting anywhere close to what the market is paying for tickets."

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.



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