Beginning with the 2013 season, all of Ohio State's football games will see price increases, a 13% increase is expected, but as The Columbus Dispatch's Bill Rabinowitz has reported, certain games that are deemed "premier" may see prices jump as high as 250% by the 2016 season.
The university's Athletic Council is asking OSU's Board of Trustees to approve a format that allows the Athletic Department to name up to two games a season, "premier". The most likely games would be marquee non-conference opponents or Big Ten rivalries. That 250% price jump will no doubt be the Michigan game ($70 in 2012 to $175 in 2016). Other premier games will range from $110 to $150.
At first glance, to Buckeye fans this must feel like price-gouging. It's definitely hard to see your tickets from the 2012 season jump in cost from $70 a game to $79 for "non-premier games" but according to school representatives, there are sound financial reasons for the increases. Vice Chair Antoinette Miranda mentions in the Dispatch piece that Ohio State carries 36 athletic programs, everything from the standard university sports like basketball and volleyball to less popular college sports programs like men's and women's hockey, rifle, and synchronized swimming. Since very few of those generate any significant revenue, as is the case at nearly every school, the responsibility to fund those programs falls to the football team, and to a lesser extent, basketball.
Speaking of which, tickets for men's basketball will also see the premium designation, up to three games a season. Those games will push prices for lower bowl tickets at Value City Arena from $40 to $46 a game and upper bowl seats will jump from $18 to $25.
As well, the school has a sprawling, and growing, athletic campus of venues and training facilities that need to be maintained. A new 4,000 seat arena for volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling will be built (with a $10 million donation) north of Value City Arena and there have been rumors of another arena being built for the hockey programs in the near future.
Miranda also claims, and is correct in stating that, premium pricing has become the standard in major college sports. Ohio State is actually behind many other schools.
As far as the secondary market goes, it remains to be seen if fans will pay those inflated costs. If the market refuses to bear a potential $400 ticket to see the fabled Michigan game, then perhaps the $175 cost from Ohio State works out for some fans lucky enough to get them direct from Ohio State.
The proposed price increases will be discussed at the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting at the end of January.
If the proposal is approved, what will most likely happen is fans raise hell over the price increases but few will actually drop their seats, and people just learn to deal with it. I'm not saying that's what should happen, but for traditional football programs like Ohio State, people are so intertwined with the tradition and routine of attending college football games every fall that the market can bear much more than the base 13% price increase before people really get angry. Even if some do, there are plenty of people willing to pay $79 to see the Buckeyes. Ohio Stadium will still be packed, regardless.