Improving the Ohio State Football Experience: Where Are the New Hineygates?

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst IFebruary 23, 2009

When I read about Michigan lowering the average ticket price for football games, it seemed like the tipping point to write a post. Of course, it immediately reminded me of what seems the extremely likely shuttering of Hineygate, and it brought my mind back to the articles about the tightening of Ohio State's budget and the impending increase of Buckeyes football tickets.

Then I thought about the Australian Open. If you watched as much of it as I did last month, then you saw the huge crowds camping out in Federation Square and outside Rod Laver Arena breathlessly watching match after match.

While this is a surely flawed thought process, I cannot figure out for the life of me why Ohio State does not offer a similar viewer experience for the throngs of ticketless fans that congregate outside Ohio Stadium on game days. Hineygate is/was fine, but, in my opinion, it certainly was not a premier fan experience.

Even if you loved it, I think you would agree that it does not have to be the only extra venue on game days. The other large fan forum on game day was the Varsity Club, but that party blended into Hineygate long ago.

Ohio State puts on the finest in-game experience in the country, and there is no reason they cannot put on the best out-of-game experience. Why not set up a half dozen smaller events (compared to Hineygate) where the hosts can charge nominal admission, get sponsors, and provide a cool experience for those who do not fit inside Ohio Stadium?

It does not seem that hard. I bet there are dozens of businesses lining up to get a piece of the action. Ohio State football is the surest moneymaker I can think of in central Ohio.

I am sure there are problems with this business model, but this type of plan immediately jumps into my mind. Ohio State sells the tailgating spots to individuals, right? So, they should sell fewer to individuals and reserve larger blocks for business.

What if City Barbecue rented a large tailgating spot, charged $5 for a wristband that entitles you to buy food and drink (and establishes you are 21), and set up TVs all over the place that would allow better viewing for more fans? I would be likely to attend that if I did not have tickets.

I know Karen Holbrook, and the University to some degree, did not want the masses drinking around the stadium (which was un-American, if you ask me), but considering the alleged budget concerns, I doubt the University would turn the extra revenue from licensing the right to serve and consume alcohol around the stadium.

In a strange way, this could even further Holbrook's goal of containing the gameday drinking, as smaller events would allow for more control. Ultimately, this would probably bring more revenue to the campus area, as fans would not leave right before the game starts to watch it.

This setup seems like a win-win. More fans get a better game day experience, the University and businesses generate some extra revenue, and the University gets to some additional control of how fans how consume around campus.

How cool would it be to see half a dozen awesome parties with food and beer taking place all around Ohio State when USC comes to town this fall?