In a sport with 22 starters, it’s rare for just one to swing a fan’s interest in attending a game.
While the university hiked up the face value of OSU football tickets in 2013, the actual price to get into games this season has taken a hit since senior quarterback Braxton Miller went down with a shoulder injury.
Miller tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder at practice Aug. 18. Just two days later, the average price to get into an OSU home or neutral site game in 2014 had already dropped about 10 percent, according to the website SeatGeek.
The website is a place to search for tickets that compiles prices for different events across major secondary ticket-selling websites.
A spokesman for StubHub, a major secondary ticketing website, said on Monday the website did not see a change in prices after the injury, but did see about a 10 percent drop in traffic going to the OSU ticketing page on the website compared to the week before the injury.
On Tuesday, the StubHub spokesman said single game ticket prices hadn’t changed, but the website had seen about a 9 percent drop in season ticket prices since before Miller’s injury. He said StubHub has about 300 season-ticket listings from outside sellers.
OSU assistant athletic director for ticketing and premium seating Brett Scarbrough said Tuesday he hadn’t had a chance to “scour the secondary market,” but added his office had not experienced a decrease in phone calls looking for tickets since Miller was injured.
“As far as requests that come through my office, for both home and away games, I have not seen a dip in those at all,” he said.
Scarbrough went on to say that he had never experienced a situation where one player drove down either prices or demand for OSU football tickets.
The average price to get into the Buckeyes’ season opener against Navy, set to take place at the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, dropped 15 percent in the first two days after the injury. Originally averaging $109 before his injury, the prices were coming in at $93 on the week of the injury.
The get-in — or lowest — price for the Navy game was $77 on Aug. 17. On Tuesday night, a SeatGeek search showed the price had dropped 52 percent to as low as $37 with the game less than a week away.
Even OSU’s annual matchup with archrival Michigan — better known as The Game — saw an initial drop in prices. According to SeatGeek, the average price for the Nov. 29 matchup at Ohio Stadium was $408 during the week of Aug. 11, but dropped down to $380 — or approximately a 7 percent decrease — after the injury.
Regardless of secondary vendors, Scarbrough said OSU’s single-game ticket sales have been successful heading into the season, especially when it comes to Michigan.
“What I can tell you is … we went on sale with our single games a few weeks ago,” he said. “We’re very successful with that. With the exception of Michigan, which is sold out, all of the other (home) games are down to scattered single seats.”
With The Game sold out through OSU’s ticketing service, the prices have fluctuated multiple times since the injury.
On Aug. 20, the low price for the Michigan game on SeatGeek was $210, just a $2 drop from two days earlier, but on Monday, the tickets started at $203. That was more than a 4 percent decrease for the price to watch arguably OSU’s most anticipated game of the season.
As of Tuesday night, that get-in price was back to $214 after the initial plunge.
OSU’s homecoming matchup with Rutgers took the most significant hit for average ticket prices, falling about 18 percent from the week of Aug. 11 to the week of Aug. 18. Those tickets were still averaging about $144, but had come in at $175 before the injury.
On Tuesday night, a SeatGeek search showed a low price of $93 for an Ohio Stadium ticket for the Rutgers game, which is about a 16 percent drop from the $111 get-in price on Aug. 17.
Instead of focusing on which individual players are on the field, Scarbrough said his office works with OSU’s fan experience and marketing teams to keep the game atmosphere at a desirable level.
“Regardless of who’s throwing the pass on the field, we want to make sure the (OSU) football experience is all that it can be for our fans,” he said. “We don’t really tend to … focus a whole lot on individual injuries and that sort of thing.”
Even though Scarbrough said his office hasn’t experienced a situation where the star quarterback went down with an injury before the season, he said there are no plans to change the strategy going forward.
“Like I said, we’ve never experienced a situation like this before,” he said. “But it certainly doesn’t change our focus toward making an (OSU) football game an experience, and that in and of itself is going to drive ticket sales.”
In some situations, that plan seems to have held true as not every game has seen ticket prices continue to drop since Miller was injured, even at secondary vendors.
The get-in price on SeatGeek for the Buckeyes’ Sept. 6 prime-time matchup with Virginia Tech came in at $136 Tuesday evening. On Aug. 17, that price was $140 and on Aug. 20 — after the injury — it was $129. Since Aug. 20, the price has gone up a net of about 5 percent.
The get-in price for the Buckeyes’ Sept. 27 game against Cincinnati also saw a rise after an initial 15 percent drop after Miller tore his labrum. The price was listed at $90 on SeatGeek Tuesday night, while it came in at $76 on Aug. 20.
According to SeatGeek, tickets to get into OSU home games were still some of the most expensive in all of college football, second only to Notre Dame, as of Aug. 20.
“Lots of other schools are not in the situation that we’re in with the success of their public ticket sales, or their student ticket sales or other categories for that matter,” Scarbrough said. “So, we’re constantly talking about game-atmosphere-type issues.”
While still high in comparison to most of the nation, prices for every OSU home game — outside of Illinois and Michigan — and the neutral-site game against Navy are lower than they were when it was announced Miller would be out for the season. Two of those games have seen the get-in price continue to drop since Aug. 20.