COLUMBUS — Ohio State's athletic department is raising ticket prices in football and men's basketball and for golf fees in order to continue to offer 36 varsity sports and upgrade facilities, athletic director Gene Smith said.
The school is also initiating "premium" games in both football and basketball, with large increases planned for fans wanting to see those contests.
Tickets to Ohio State's home football game tickets for most seats will go from $70 to $79 this fall. The price will go up for as many as two premium games a season to $110 to $175 per game.
"We haven't raised tickets prices the last three years," Smith said. "Looking ahead into our financial plan, we knew at some point we would have to do this."
Only one game has been selected as a premium game for the 2013 football season — the Sept. 28 date with Wisconsin, which has a new coach and will be going through a transitional year. Tickets for that game will cost a maximum of $110.
Smith said Ohio State had considered also making the Penn State game this fall a premium game, but declined to do so because of the volatility of the matchup. The Nittany Lions face severe limitations in recruiting and a bowl ban in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Ohio State hosts archrival Michigan in football in even-numbered years. Tickets for those games will almost certainly cost as much as $175.
Smith cited the costs of supporting the most varsity sports of any school in the nation for the increase, in addition to $4 million being spent at Ohio Stadium for concrete resurfacing, $1 million for a new track at the Jesse Owens Stadium and $2.2 million for a new roof and $600,000 for a new field at the football team's practice facility.
Smith said he did not believe that Ohio State was pushing ticket prices as high as the market will bear.
"We're different than most programs," he said, referring to the large football ticket allotment set aside for students (30,000) and for faculty and staff (15,000). "We do this because our people are passionate. We believe that they'll show up."
A finance committee accepted the recommendations on Thursday. The school's board of trustees is expected to approve the increases on Friday.
The measure will raise around $6 million per year, $5.2 million in football and $800,000 in men's basketball.
Men's basketball tickets will go up starting next season, by $6 for the best seats and less in other areas of Value City Arena.
Smith and the athletic department were also approved to designate as many as five men's basketball games a year as premium games, most likely the home games with Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and possibly the ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent in years when Ohio State hosts that game.
No figures for the cost of those premium games was provided by the university.
Most of college football's top programs do not charge the same for every game, as Ohio State has for years.
Ohio State's opponents at Ohio Stadium this fall include Buffalo, San Diego State, Football Championship Subdivision member Florida A&M and Big Ten foes Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State and Indiana.
There have already been some complaints from Ohio State fans about the increases to the university, Smith and call-in shows and in letters to the editor.
According to figures provided by Brett Scarbrough, Ohio State's assistant athletic director in charge of ticketing and premium seating, 48,000 season-ticket packages were sold last year to Ohio Stadium. Of that figure, faculty/staff represented 13,666 season packages and students bought 15,556.
Ohio Stadium is currently undergoing concrete resurfacing that required Ohio State to shift its annual spring football game to Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium, home of the NFL Bengals. The spring game is April 13.
Many of Ohio State's season-ticket packages require purchasers to first make major donations to the university.
Fees at the university's Scarlet and Gray golf courses will also rise by a small percentage.
Ohio State football tickets were just $43 in 2001 and have risen almost every year since: 2002 ($45), 2003 ($47), 2004 ($57), 2005 ($58), 2006 ($59), 2007 ($60), 2008 ($62), 2009 ($63), 2010-12 ($70).
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