The No. 2 Ohio State wrestling team will take on No. 1 Penn State on the road Saturday night, yet the highly anticipated meet will not take place in the largest sports facility on the Nittany Lions’ campus.
The Rec Hall, the location for the meet, holds 6,502 people. That capacity is much lower than the amount of people that fit in Ohio State’s home arenas — the Schottenstein Center or St. John Arena. Buckeye head coach Tom Ryan view the smaller venue as a missed opportunity.
“Unfortunately the opposing team doesn’t get to pick the venue. I think that an event like this can sell 45-, 50-thousand tickets,” said Ryan.
A basketball game at the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday prevents the meet from being held in the 15,261 seat arena. Basketball, along with football, are the main sources of income for college athletic programs. Ryan believes the amount of revenue sports can grow.
“College wrestling needs to move to a place where there is season ending significance,” said Ryan. “When we get there, I think that it will add to the excitement.”
Ryan thinks wrestling can become popularized enough to turn a profit, and he believes it will not happen until everyone surrounding the sport adjusts their mindset.
“Wrestling can become a revenue-generating sport if we start to think like people that want it to be,” Ryan said. “If it was here, I would’ve asked [Athletic Director] Gene [Smith] to do what he can to have it here in the Schott,” said Ryan.
On ticket app Seatgeek, the cheapest secondary market ticket available for the meet is $56, and many tickets are priced for more than $100. Since the high-profile nature of the matchup and the small venue, wrestling fans must pay more than usual to see the meet, leading to casual fans passing up the opportunity to watch the nation’s top-two teams battle.
“I believe that the event has to have more significance than that evening. If you study any organization, any TV show, any show that has a following, there’s something else coming,” Ryan said.
Ohio State senior top-ranked heavyweight Kyle Snyder agreed with Ryan, explaining his dream idea for what this meet could have been.
“I wish it was a bigger venue,” Snyder said. “But it’d be cool if we had it in like a neutral arena that was 35, 40,000 people cause I think we would sell that out. I think we could sell out a 50,000 person arena for this match.”
With all this being said, Ryan is still hyped up for this showdown.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time. These are the events that, man what a blessing. How can you not be excited to watch 20 really high-level guys fight it out.”