OSU trustees to vote on ticket-price increase

First Posted: 2/9/2010

COLUMBUS - Football games would cost Buckeyes fans another $7 per ticket next year and men's basketball games would cost another buck under proposals going to the Ohio State University trustees Friday.

Golf membership dues also would rise by as much as $70, although daily fees would not.

''We really struggled with doing this," OSU Athletics Director Gene Smith said. "We know what's going on economically with everybody. We know with many of our fans, it might be a challenge. We hope they'll find a way to stay with us."

Smith said the increases were needed to offset increases in operating costs and losses caused by a flagging economy. He said concessions revenue was down 9 percent and merchandise revenue another 26 percent, with payroll and other expenses rising 10 percent.

Football tickets would climb to: Men's basketball tickets would rise:

--$28 per game, up $1. Upper-level end-zone tickets would remain $10 and be sold only on game days

--$15 for students, up 50 cents

--$19.50 or $23 for faculty/staff, up 50 cents

The breakdown of proposed golf dues:

--Alumni and affiliates would pay $2,395 in dues, up $70

--Students would pay $575, up $15

--Faculty/staff would pay $1,916, up $56

The Athletics Department budget has been hit hard by the recession, particularly non-football ticket sales, such as basketball, hockey, sports camp and merchandising, said Ben Jay, Ohio State's senior associate athletics director for finance and operations.

''Especially over these last two years, we've been seeing some of our revenue streams really slow," Jay said. "People aren't buying the same way they used to. We're still feeling the effects of the economy."

The department was facing an up to $2 million hole for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, but through cost-cutting it cut the loss to just under $150,000 on its $116 million budget, Jay said.

But "here we go a year later and we're pretty much in the same boat," Jay said. "Our revenues have slowed, they're not hitting their projections. We're watching it week to week."

Other expenses have hit the department's bank surplus, depleting the fund to about $3 million from more than double that several years ago, Jay said. Those included the about $2.5 million settlement payment to former basketball coach Jim O'Brien, Jay said.

For years the Athletics Department had been so flush that it returned money to the university's general fund, but that hasn't been the case in recent years with the debt service on a new arena, almost $200 million in a reconstruction of the football stadium, and new baseball, soccer, track and softball stadiums.

Smith said with eight home football games this fall, seven in 2011 and eight more in 2012, he hoped the ticket-price increases will be enough to stave off more financial problems.

''This is a fix for hopefully the next few years," he said.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.

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