Ohio State Is Jacking Up Ticket Prices Again, but It's Actually a Good Move

Adam Jacobi@Adam_JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterJanuary 23, 2013

Nov 24, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; A general view of Ohio State Buckeyes fans on the field after the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State Buckeyes defeated Michigan Wolverines 26-21. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State football is about as big-time as it gets in college football. The Buckeyes routinely compete for conference championships, routinely haul in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and routinely sell out Ohio Stadium, a behemoth of an arena that seats 102,329 fans.

Combine that with a highly lucrative television revenue deal with the Big Ten, and the Buckeyes athletic department's pocketbooks will essentially never be empty.

So, naturally, Ohio State is likely to raise ticket prices.

Here's more from the Columbus Dispatch:

The school’s Athletic Council will make a recommendation on Friday to the board of trustees on an increase in ticket prices. One possibility is an increase to $79 per general-public ticket, from $70, a rise of almost 13 percent. Also being considered is the designation of as many as two games as premium games, with ticket prices higher than for the other games.

The Athletic Council might recommend both options.

“It’s still all in a state of consideration and discussion,” said Moritz College of Law professor Charles Wilson, the Athletic Council chairman. “Until the final thing is decided upon and submitted to the board of trustees for consideration, I think it’d be premature at this point to begin to speculate exactly what will be the recommendation.”

The board of trustees will meet Jan. 31-Feb. 1. Wilson declined to predict what the price of premium-game tickets might be.

It may well be tempting to look at this potential (but likely) move by Ohio State as a bit of a cash grab, and it is. It's not as if Ohio State's particularly hurting for money. Forbes Magazine reported in December that Ohio State's revenue from football alone was $58 million in 2011—and $24 million of that was profit.

So, bogus move to raise ticket prices, right? Actually, no—it's the smart move for Ohio State.

For one, Forbes only rated Ohio State as the 20th most valuable college football program based off those 2011 numbers—and it speculated that when the 2012 numbers are released, Ohio State could fall even further, thanks to the postseason ban affecting revenue.

Folks, Ohio State football is a machine. It should be up with the likes of Texas and Michigan, not getting beaten out by Washington and Michigan State in terms of value, per Forbes.

Also, as the Dispatch notes, Ohio State had kept ticket prices steady for the past three years. That's a nice gesture toward fans, but at some point inflation becomes an issue.

It also doesn't help that Ohio State won't get the eighth home game it had in 2012—and with tougher scheduling set to be a Big Ten priority starting in 2014, it's unlikely that Ohio State will have an eight-game home slate again without a season expansion. Over the next 10 years, Ohio State already has one away game in its non-conference schedule in every season except one: 2019, and there are still three slots open that year.

Between the cost of inflation and the eighth home game going away until further notice, those are two instances in which Ohio State is watching money it's used to making come off the board and basically never come back—unless the school creates a rise in revenue. 

Finally, the most notable of the proposals is the designation of up to two games (one of which will almost certainly always be Michigan, when applicable) as "premium" games for which Ohio State will raise ticket prices even further. But as Eleven Warriors notes, this isn't an unusual move—Ohio State was actually in the minority by not having "premium" games:

At the Dec. 6 Faculty Council meeting, Charlie Wilson, chairman of Ohio State’s Athletic Council and a professor at the Moritz College of Law, revealed a plan that would set prices for premium games during the 2013 and 2014 seasons between $110 and $125. That increases to the $125 and $150 range in 2015 and $175 in 2016 before returning to $125 and $150 in 2017. Faculty and staff tickets will cost 80 percent of the public’s price. Students will not pay a premium rate.

“No doubt there will be blowback,” Wilson said. “The problem is of the big-time football schools, we are virtually the only one that doesn’t do the premium pricing.

“The consensus is we’re leaving a lot of money on the table that other universities are taking advantage of. Whatever we do, at least for the foreseeable future, it will involve far less revenue than the consultants say we could get.

With all that in mind, it's not a travesty that Ohio State is likely to raise ticket prices—it's a no-brainer.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.