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Column: Rising ticket prices are making attending Ohio State football games a tough decision

During a time when prices of everything are skyrocketing, Ohio State continues to price many of their hardcore fans out of attending games.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

It’s getting harder and harder to justify going to Ohio state football games and not just watching them at home or going out to the bar and watching them with friends. Prices for everything are going up these days, which is understandable considering *waves arms at everything*. While some of the increase can be attributed to inflation, it is getting absolutely ridiculous what the ticket prices for Ohio State football games have become.

Not that I was under the impression that tickets to the September 3rd season opener against Notre Dame were going to be cheap give the storied histories of both these programs, combined with the start of a season where both teams are expected to be contenders for spots in the College Football Playoff. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also the juicy storyline of former Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman returning to Columbus in his first game as head coach of the Fighting Irish.

The issue is the true fans are getting priced out of going to Ohio State home games. Instead, you’ll get Businessman Bob and the clients he is trying to impress enough that it closes the important deal, or the old money boomers that are pitching a fit if somebody three rows down is standing too much. Have you been wondering why we don’t hear as many raucous crowds at Ohio Stadium as we used to? It’s because the fans that had been responsible for so much of the noise inside the stadium can’t afford to attend anymore.

In September, my mom and step-dad came down to Columbus to visit for a weekend, which happened to coincide with when the Buckeyes were hosting Tulsa. Since they had never been to an Ohio State football game I figured I could get at least decent seats for not nearly as much as the previous week when the Buckeyes hosted Oregon.

Well, after tracking ticket prices on a couple of the secondary market sites for a few weeks, I ended up purchasing four tickets in the first row of B Deck in the north endzone that ended up totaling around $700 after taxes and robbery fees. At least the seats were covered which helped out on a cloudless day where it was about 90 degrees. Of course it was just my luck that I did all that time checking on the ticket prices and the attendance ended up being the lowest at an Ohio State game in a half century!

I know Ohio State has to try and make up some revenue that was lost in 2020 since there was no fans in attendance because of COVID-19 at the limited amount of home games the Buckeyes hosted. There still has to be a better way to try and recoup some of those losses than by sending ticket prices soaring. Don’t expect those ticket prices to fall anytime soon though, since in the coming years there are non-conference home games against Texas, Alabama, and Georgia. Ohio State will try and squeeze every last dime they can out of their fans when it comes to ticket prices.

I’m lucky enough to where I live close enough to campus where I can take a cheap Uber/Lyft and won’t have to worry about paying for parking. Others aren’t so lucky and have to consider other expenses like lodging, parking, food & drink, and possibly more if they are making it a weekend in Columbus. Say if I bought those same four tickets for the Tulsa game AND was coming in from Cleveland or Cincinnati, I would have easily been spending at least $1,000 for the weekend. A lot of fans just can’t swing that, especially with the way prices for everything are trending now.

It used to be that there was nothing quite like going to an Ohio State game. While it’s still an amazing way to spend a Saturday in the fall, it is becoming a lot more enjoyable to watch at home. Comfortable chairs, other games at your fingertips during commercials, beers that aren’t $10/each, and no lines for the bathroom. Maybe I’m just continuing my transformation into a cranky old man, but not having to deal with 100,000+ people for everything during a game sounds like a no-brainer.

Another reason it’s becoming an easy choice to pass on paying the high ticket prices for Ohio State football games is the number of noon games that are being played. I understand playing at noon against Maryland, <insert MAC school here>, and even the Michigan game since we are so used to when that is played. The problem is when the marquee home games of the year at noon. If I’m going to one of those games, I want some time to soak up the atmosphere. When they start at noon, everything feels rushed.

I’m sure this is going to seem like I’m expecting Ohio State to just give tickets away, which isn’t the case. The problem I have is just with how the prices are skyrocketing. The university doesn’t care that they are limiting who can go to games since they are still getting people to plunk down money for tickets even at those high prices.

Now those that are making up the crowd at Ohio Stadium are more of the wine & cheese crowd, which hurts the atmosphere. If you want a true home field advantage you need those fans that aren’t afraid to get a little loud and rowdy. Too many times recently we have heard crowds inside The Horseshoe that barely make any noise. Then again, this could also because more and more fans are becoming scared of everything, so they just sit on their hands and wait for the next thing they can complain about. It didn’t used to be like that at Ohio Stadium, which used to be one of the most feared stadiums for opponents to travel to. I don’t get that vibe so much anymore.

These days people are finding better uses for their money than spending so much for one day at Ohio Stadium. Over the last few years I’ve been a partial season ticket holder for the Blue Jackets, where I get two tickets to 10 games for a little over $800. Even though Columbus hasn’t been as good on the ice lately, I definitely feel like I get my monies worth from the ticket package. Unless you end up seeing an instant classic, it’s hard to feel the same way about an Ohio State home game anymore. Hopefully that’ll change, but it’s becoming harder to believe that it will.