Ohio Stadium turns 100 this season, a fact that will be celebrated at Saturday's Homecoming game against Rutgers. and according to Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, the stadium's annual maintenance costs fall somewhere between $2.2 million and $2.5 million.
To help with this and other facility maintenance costs, Smith told cleveland.com Thursday that the athletic department will begin charging a maintenance fee on tickets sold at all of its venues, possibly as early as next year.
Smith said the department’s revenue generation committee is studying the specifics of that fee, including what amount to charge. Those parameters would also need approval from the OSU athletic council and board of trustees.
He said anticipated changes to expenditures — including potential increases in money paid to athletes — are expected to alter the budgetary structure in the future.
As reported by cleveland.com, Ohio State already absorbed one athlete-related cost — the $5,900-per-athlete payments allowed by the Alston v. NCAA case. Another obligation could result from the House v. NCAA case, which seeks damages for athletes who could not benefit from name, image and likeness rights before 2021 and pushes for athletes to receive a cut of television revenues.
“Because we know what’s coming,” Smith said of why the maintenance fee would be implemented now. “We know that our current financial model is not going to be sustainable. So we are constantly always looking at different ways to increase our revenue.”
Much of Ohio Stadium maintenance costs, which are covered by the athletic department, deal with structural factors such as concrete repair and replacement, Smith said.
Seating capacity in Ohio Stadium has been a little under 103,000 since 2019. Smith said future renovations could reduce that capacity, possibly to increase premium seating.
Smith said the new fee would only be used for maintenance. Ohio State has reduced costs in some areas, such as moving to a ticketless admissions model.
“We’re pushing every envelope we can, so that we can sustain 36 sports and give those young people a great experience,” Smith said. “So while we are always looking at efficiencies, while we’re always trying to keep our costs down, there are certain uncontrollable costs that we cannot keep down.
“We’re always going to invest in football. It’s a beast from an expenditure point of view. But I’m always pushing the envelope on revenue.”
Smith said OSU does not currently plan to charge that maintenance fee on concerts at Ohio Stadium or Value City Arena.