Jim Tressel is officially the former head coach of Ohio State football and the impact of his resignation will be felt far beyond the towering walls of Ohio Stadium.
Many campus area businesses said game days are also big paydays. According to a 2005 study published in the “Journal of Sports Economics,” OSU athletic programs generated an estimated $100 million for the local economy in 2003.
But with the football program in turmoil, will football Saturdays still be a windfall for local businesses?
Michael Weisgarber, a fourth-year in English and history, said he attended almost every home football game last season. Next year, however, he is considering sitting out some games because of the scandal.
“A lot of the popularity of the football team has to do with image,” Weisgarber said. “I think Tressel is pretty integral to that image.”
John Miles has been working the register at Tommy’s Pizza and Subs on West Lane Avenue for five years and he said it’s not easy to predict if a lot of fans will skip games and impact sales.
“It’s hard to say, it might drop off a little, but nothing major,” Miles said.
Tommy’s often does about $2,000 of business on a Friday, but game days can bring in $10,000 to $15,000, Miles said. During the University of Southern California game in 2009, that figure was about $17,000.
But Tommy’s has been serving pizza and subs to the OSU community for more than 25 years, and Miles said it is confident business will remain strong, even without the Senator at the ‘Shoe.
“I think people care more about the school than Tressel,” Miles said.
That is true for Nathan Rodriguez, a fourth-year in electrical and computer engineering. Rodriguez said he goes to a couple games every year.
“I don’t see myself being any less likely to go,” Rodriguez said. “I still will go to a couple games.”
Buckeye Donuts on North High Street is another game day favorite and owner Jimmy Barouxis said it’s common for the restaurant to serve more than 1,000 customers.
“It definitely matters how well the team is doing,” Barouxis said. “As the tension and excitement builds when the team is doing well, we definitely do more business.”
Barouxis said game-day business might drop off by a few percentage points now that Tressel is gone, but the donut and sandwich shop will be fine.
“We’re not worried,” Barouxis said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
Some businesses are even hopeful their sales will improve. Leah Reynolds is a Columbus artist who sells prints of hand-drawn portraits of Tressel and former OSU football coach Woody Hayes through the online crafts site, www.etsy.com.
Reynolds said page views for her Tressel prints went up after the embattled coach resigned.
Her online store sells full portraits as well as cards and magnets that feature the legendary OSU coaches and other artwork.
“Right before football season I sell more Woody Hayes and coach Tressel prints,” Reynolds said. “If you live (in Columbus), you have to be a fan.”
Reynolds said she has no intention of taking down the Tressel prints.
“They won’t go off (the website),” Reynolds said. “There will still be Tressel fans, just like there are still Woody Hayes fans.”
The artist said some people might buy the Tressel prints as a gag gift for a Buckeye fan. But Reynolds isn’t dwelling on the past, in fact she is already working on her latest piece: a portrait of coach Luke Fickell.
“I will absolutely have a print of him (Fickell),” Reynolds said. “I’m planning on getting that up just as soon as I can.”