Ohio Stadium, with the fourth-largest crowd capacity in college football, is considered an intimidating environment for visiting teams. The price of hosting them is equally daunting.
Last season the Ohio State Athletic Department spent $9.3 million for the Buckeyes’ seven home football games, a cost of more than $1.3 million a game.
However, the price tag for a game against a team like USC is far different than that of a team like Navy.
The biggest reason for variation — and also the biggest cost on the line-item budget — is game guarantees. These guarantees, the amount the athletic department agrees to pay each visiting school, are negotiated by the athletic director and fluctuate for a variety of reasons, said Pete Hagan, associate athletic director of finance.
Among other game-day costs, variation comes largely because of traffic and parking. The later the kickoff time, the more expensive those costs are, Hagan said.
Discrepancies in the security costs arise for the same reason.
The department uses more than 10 security agencies to keep the stadium safe on game day, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“We know that Ohio Stadium is a desirable target for the bad guys so we do everything that we can … to protect our fans,” said Ben Jay, associate athletic director of finance and operations.
Other universities have begun using OSU’s methods as a guideline to secure their stadiums, officials said.
Tthe department also keeps stadium cleanup costs lower than most venues, officials said.
The ability to keep costs so low comes from the 43-year relationship with the university ROTC, which works alongside student employees to clean the stadium Sunday mornings.
Though the department looks for ways to cut back on the amount of money dished out for games, costs are not the primary issue.
“The bottom line is our customer experience,” Jay said.