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OSU AD Gene Smith Addresses Attendance Hitting 50-Year Low For Tulsa Game

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What in the world is going on at Ohio State where Saturday’s attendance hit a 50-year single-game low that hadn’t been seen at the Horseshoe since a 1971 game against Iowa. In an email to longtime Ohio State writer Jeff Snook, athletic director Gene Smith made a number of sobering observations as to why just 76,540 fans showed up for the Buckeyes lackluster win over Tulsa in a game where the OSU defense gave up 501 total yards to the Golden Hurricanes.

Smith told Snook that there were 20,000 fans who didn’t show up for Saturday’s game. The actual number of tickets sold Saturday was in the 96,000 range for a stadium that averaged an attendance of 103,000 in 2019.

The attendance factors according to Smith:

• Heat

• People preferred to stay home and watch in the comfort of their own homes or at bars

• The opponent wasn’t exactly exciting — this week, Akron comes to town and Ohio State is a 52-point favorite

• “Disappointment with Oregon loss-cannot ignore this fact, considering our amazing run. I am sure I am missing something, but so appreciative of those who showed for the Oregon and Tulsa contests. This is a young team in the process of being built. The league is the toughest it has been in a long time. Our fan support for the home games versus Big Ten schools will be critical,” Smith wrote to Snook.

While all those factors played a part, the fact remains that ticket prices have gotten out of control, and it appears Ohio State fans have hit their breaking point with a program that had a face-value price of $160 for the Oregon game cheap seats. The Tuesday before the Oregon game, Ohio State made the huge news that it had 10,000 tickets remaining for its big feature game of 2021.

Then it followed up that $160 ticket with a $63 cheap seat to see Tulsa and Akron will be $66. Oh, and as Snook writes, each ticket also includes a $10 handling fee.

Yeah, but what about ticket prices at other big-time schools? They must be charging the same as Ohio State for blowout games. A quick check of Alabama’s ticket site reveals you can buy a cheap seat to the New Mexico game in November for $25. A cheap seat for a November game against Arkansas will run $75. Again, Ohio State has a face value of $66 on a game against Akron.

Alabama cheap ticket prices

At Clemson, a cheap seat to its blowout game against UConn will run $45 while the cheapest ticket available from the school’s ticket off for the Florida State game is $90.

Georgia’s blowout game against Charleston Southern on November 20 will cost $55 while an October SEC matchup against Arkansas will cost $75.

Meanwhile, if you thought Ohio State’s $160 cheap seat for the Oregon game was steep, the Penn State ticket has a face value of $210! Yes, at that price there are plenty of areas inside Ohio Stadium for fans to buy up before the Halloween Eve game takes place.

Two tickets, after $20 in handling fees and a $4 processing fee, will cost a customer $444. Those wanting to take the family for a big night out at the huge Buckeyes game will fork over $884 for four tickets to see a Big Ten game and sit in the upper deck.

Or the fans will just stay home and watch it on their $600 65″ 4k TV.

Ohio State Penn State empty seats

Written by Joe Kinsey

I'm an Ohio guy, born in Dayton, who roots for Ohio State and can handle you guys destroying the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer and everything associated with Columbus.

9 Comments

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  1. Let’s be clear. Regardless of ticket pricing or weather or asteroids or zombies apocalypses, 30,000 empty seats at OSU is a gigantic flashing warning sign for the football program. OSU typically draws close to this for a spring game. It shows there’s a general lack of interest or care from the fan base. There’s a reason behind that. I haven’t seen that many empty seats at an OSU game in my lifetime outside of covid last year. Mayday!

  2. Oklahoma is battling much of the same things that tOSU fans are. OU home games have opponents that are (aside from the legacy Nebraska game) are very weak draws, its 100 degrees for an 11:00am kickoff until mid October(thanks FOX), concession lines are understaffed (thanks Biden) and oh yeah ticket prices. I can stay home and have an awesome gameday experience without putting up with all the crap. Having season tickets anymore is like owning a boat, you have to use it i guess and when you do its very $$$$.

    • I grew with ticket prices boxing out 2/3 of teams’ fan bases. It’s too expensive for most fans to consistently go now.

      I took my kids to the Vandy vs ETSU game in week one and decent tickets were $160 after fees… for THAT game. After concessions you’re over $200 for a garbage game. Most people will pass on that. They drew 22,000 to their home opener, which is pathetic. I’d rather slash ticket prices to $10 per and draw 35,000 to get the fan base engaged and create an actual atmosphere. Sure, charge more for premier games you know will sellout, but MOST games are not in that category. All teams need to look at ticket prices and adjust, because you see tons of places with a lot of empty seats for average games. They’re cutting out a majority of the fan bases.

    • Better home games will equal interest. I went to the WVU v. VT game last weekend and it was packed to the gills. Lines were long because of understaffing probably, but other than that it was an awesome experience. It was a rival that is for sure. OU and OSU fans are spoiled because you all beat the dog snot out of most teams you play. So other than Bedlam or if some other team in the Big 12 is a draw for that given year you will crush most every team on your schedule. Alas the problems of winning (akin to first world problems). By the way OU 50- WVU 14 this weekend another snoozer for the OU fanbase. Hey at least its at 6:30 local time.

  3. Also, something that the article failed to mention is that you have to ‘donate’ every year for the ‘right’ to even purchase tickets from the university. You can’t just buy them from the school’s website, with the exception of Vandy of course. I’m a Georgia alum, and have several friends that donate in the thousands of dollars each year for the right to buy tickets. The university sets a donation floor each year, and only those donors with lifetime giving over that amount can purchase tickets. So all of a sudden, that $55 ticket is now around $250 or more a ticket with donation money spread out over the season. No thanks, I go to one fun away game each year and watch the rest from home!

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