OSU Trustees Approve “Premium Pricing” For Big Games

Fans hoping to get into Ohio Stadium could have to pay up to $175 to see Michigan, Wisconsin, and other big-name opponents.(Photo: Flickr)
Fans hoping to get into Ohio Stadium could have to pay up to $175 to see Michigan, Wisconsin, and other big-name opponents.(Photo: Flickr)

Ohio State rarely has a problem selling tickets to football games.

It’s been more than a decade since fewer than 100,000 people crammed into Ohio Stadium to cheer on the Buckeyes for a home game. Now the university is trying to capitalize: the Board of Trustees on Friday voted to increase football ticket prices from $70 to $79, and to introduce premium ticket pricing.

Premium ticket pricing is charging a different ticket price depending on the game.

Charlie Wilson is a law professor at OSU who chairs the university’s Athletic Council. It recently voted to put the proposal before the board of trustees.

It lets the university designate two “premium” games a year with tickets as much as $150. If the university opts for just one premium game a year, prices could go up to $175 a ticket.

It’s a first for OSU, but Wilson says as far as he knows, OSU is the only major college football program without premium pricing. It’s common in basketball, too.

“This last year, Ohio State played at the University of Kansas. There, their cheapest tickets were going for $80…this is for basketball. Whereas when Kansas came to play Ohio State this year, the ticket prices were the same regardless. The University of Kansas game was no-more expensive,” Wilson says.

Wilson declined to endorse or criticize the proposal, only saying a lack of premium pricing leaves a lot of money on the table.

“Big-time college sports have been highly commercialized, and now it’s simply out of control in terms of commercialism,” says Allen Sack, a professor of Sports Management at the University of New Haven and a defensive end on the 1966 Notre Dame national championship team.

He’s also a founding member of the Drake Group, an association of college faculty that, according to its mission statement, “defends academic integrity in higher education from the corrosive aspects of commercialized college sports.”

What has happened is as you become more commercialized, the pressure of winning is so intense on the coaches that it’s pushed down onto the athletes, the athletes have greater pressure, you have more cheating, you have more phantom courses, you have more paper courses where you don’t even show up and you supposedly write a paper and you get A’s.

No Ohio State trustees responded to requests for comment on this story.

Judging by internet message boards and the comments on news stories, most OSU fans seem to be against the price hike.

Walking to class, OSU student Kevin Speroff says any increase in ticket prices is unfortunate. But he’s hopeful higher prices for the general public might mean less public demand and more tickets for students, who would not be subject to premium pricing.

“You know a lot of schools have really, really cheap tickets for the students, and we can’t really afford expensive football games and stuff, but we want to get out there and see all that.”

Speroff says the price hike could also push him to scalp his tickets if demand increases enough. Even with premium pricing, prices at the ticket window won’t even begin to approach what scalpers can sometimes fetch on the open market. Tickets for the OSU-Michigan game can reach into the thousands of dollars.