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Biggest Concern: The atmosphere at Ohio Stadium isn’t quite what it used to be

Ticket prices, television contracts, and other factors make watching at home an easier choice

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Doral Chenoweth / USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s no questioning that Ohio State fans are some of the most passionate fans in the country. The diehards eat, sleep, and breathe Buckeye sports. I’m not talking about “Buck-i-Guy” or “Big Nut”, who want you to think their life revolves around Ohio State sports, but really they just want to be on camera at games. I’m talking about the fans that don’t care if they are sitting at the top of C Deck, just as long as they are in attendance for Buckeye games.

What is concerning is Ohio State is pricing out the blue collar fans. I’m not stupid, I know the name of the game is to try and get as much as possible for each seat inside Ohio Stadium. The problem with this is the school is sacrificing some of their home-field advantage in favor of money. In my opinion, the crowds at Ohio Stadium haven’t been quite as noisy over the last decade. Prior to that, Ohio Stadium was one of the most feared places to play in the country, but I’m not sure if that is true these days.

The problem is ticket prices keep rising, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On top of tickets, then there is parking, food, drinks, apparel, and much more. What you’re going to pay for games against Western Kentucky, Bowling Green, or some other Group of Five team is already high enough, it’s only going to go up if you want to see Ohio State host Michigan, Penn State, or some other marquee game.

While there are many advantages to see an Ohio State game in-person as opposed to on television, the quality of technology is making the decision to watch games on TV an easy one these days. Why spend hundreds of dollars to go to a game, standing in line for concessions or the bathroom and miss half a quarter of the game, when food and drinks are a lot cheaper at home?

Tulsa v Ohio State Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

I have gone to two Ohio State football home games over the last decade, both of them coming within the last two years. The first of those games was two years ago against Tulsa when it was about 164 degrees and the attendance was the lowest in like 40 years. The other was last year against Indiana when it was about 14 degrees and snowing.

For the Tulsa game, I bought four tickets to the game since my mom and step-dad were in town. I have a friend with season tickets in A Deck that was nice enough to take me to the Indiana game, and to return the favor I took him to a Blue Jackets game a few weeks later. I can’t even begin to imagine what he pays for two season tickets each year.

Granted, there are more outlets these days to acquire tickets, like StubHub and other secondary market sites where you can find seats that might be a little more reasonably priced since people might be trying to unload tickets when they can’t go. I’ve used those sites in the past for events, but you still end up getting waxed by fees, and sometimes what you are being told you are getting isn’t exactly as advertised. Again, it’s a lot less of a hassle to either watch at home on a big TV, or even to go out with friends to watch the game at a local watering hole.

I’m not saying Ohio State has to give away tickets to games, they just have to find ways to make people think a lot harder about going to games over watching at home than they do now. As if ticket prices weren’t already high enough, now schools have to plead with fans to give to NIL funds. While there are some with deep pockets that won’t blink twice at paying for season tickets AND donating to NIL funds, there are others that don’t make the type of money to do both.

There are a couple other reasons why I think you’re seeing a bit of a sleepier atmosphere at Ohio Stadium these days. One reason is the Big Ten’s recent television contracts that has brought in FOX as a television partner. Since FOX wants to be known for “Big Noon Saturday”, now you see a ton of Buckeye games at noon, which is easily the worst time for college football games.

Even though some fans love noon games, since they are usually over by 3:30, it just doesn’t provide much juice from the crowd. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like that is going to change anytime soon, especially with the Big Ten no longer being a partner with ABC/ESPN, who is big on night games.

Another reason why it feels like Ohio Stadium isn’t quite as feared as a venue as it used to be is because they have cut down on some of the attendance to add luxury seating. Let’s be honest, those in the luxury boxes and seats aren’t going to be getting loud to urge on the Buckeyes, they are there to mingle with friends or impress clients. Sometimes it feels like the more somebody spends on tickets for a game, the less tuned in they are at the actual game. I know this isn’t the whole truth, but you can’t tell me there isn’t some truth to it.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Just look at Ohio State basketball games. How often have you heard stories about some of the blue hairs in the crowd reading a book or “Cat Fancy” telling people they are standing too much or being too loud. Even though the Buckeye basketball team didn’t give fans much to cheer about this season, it is asking too much for home games to have a little more noise than what you would find at a library? Then again, playing basketball in a library might be a better atmosphere than what Value City Arena/Schottenstein Center provides.

Do I think writing all this is going to change anything? Absolutely not. Ticket prices are only going to go up on a regular basis. It’s a shame because when Ohio Stadium is packed and full of energy, there is no stadium like it in the country. Unfortunately, the times we are in awe because of the noise and energy we see from crowds at Ohio State home games feel like they are becoming fewer and fewer.

If you are going to attend any Ohio State games this fall, just be sure to be loud. It’s going to sound strange, but when I’m watching games on television, Buckeye games somehow look even better when the crowd is going out of its mind to try and make some noise. Who knows, in a close game the noise could end up being the difference between a win and a loss for the home team.