It seems like every year, Ohio Stadium undergoes some kind of expansion and/or renovation. This year, nearly $14 million is going into the old girl on the banks of the mighty Olentangy, which will spring for new FieldTurf, the installation of permanent lighting, waterproofing some concrete, and about 2,600 additional seats.
While it’s great that nearly 3,000 more people will be able to watch the Buckeyes in person at every home game, I’m not that big on stadium size arms races. If more than 100,000 can fit into the Horseshoe on any given Saturday, I’m good with that.
But all of these renovations give one pause to stop and think about what that kind of money could do to make the stadium improvements we really want to see.
What would I do if I were king of Ohio Stadium?
The first thing I’d probably do is to reduce the number of seats—without actually removing any. Take the average rear end size of an Ohioan and make that the new standard for determining how many seats should go in each row. This would exponentially improve the in-game experience. It would be nice to see a game in person without having to wait until it’s over to breathe again, from the press of bodies on either side.
Even if that reduced the capacity to 75,000-80,000, it would be a much more comfortable day at the stadium.
Aside from that, here are five changes I’d make if I were in charge (in addition, obviously, to making games more affordable).
Restore the roar
Rather than stuff the students into both end zones, I’d put the students in the bottom sections all the way around the Shoe. This should have the effect of spreading the “atmosphere” around the stadium. When loud people are around you, you tend to be loud too. It would likely make the Horseshoe a much louder place. In college football, louder is better.
To offset some of the lost revenue from reduced ticket prices and the loss of a few seats, I’d bring in the suds. Let’s not pretend there aren’t thousands of gallons of beer being consumed within a few hundred yards of Ohio Stadium every Saturday. Rather than having people “slamming” several beers to get them through the game, just sell it to them inside.
Some people worry that beer sales in the stadium will lead to more drunken idiots causing problems. But tailgating contributes plenty of that already and it’s largely due to people hurriedly trying to get their drink on.
Whether it’s those guzzling in the parking lot because there will be a 3-4 hour window until their next beer, or those who smuggle in a bottle of something harder than beer that they pound much too quickly for fear of getting caught, drinking fast certainly ups the ante.
Some college stadiums even reported fewer incidents after starting beer sales. So take all the arguments off the table and tap those kegs of delicious Yuengling, which is what my choice would be if I were king of the Shoe.
Movie theaters humorously tout their “stadium seating.” What stadium are they modeling their seats after? I’ve never been in a stadium that had seats as nice as today’s modern movie theaters. From movable arm rests with giant cup holders to nicely cushioned seats, movie theaters have stadiums beat by a mile in the cushy seat department.
I’d give everyone a nice comfy chair with a cup holder on one side and a retractable tray on the other side to hold your nachos and hot dogs. And let’s go ahead and heat the seat for those late November games.
One of the most frustrating things in the age of technology is not being able to access the net on your mobile device. Whether you’re trying to send a selfie to Facebook (note: please stop sending selfies to Facebook), streaming another game so you can keep up with Appalachian State’s latest upset of Michigan, or sending a barrage of texts that won't go through in an effort to find your drunken friend who got separated from the group, a lack of connectivity on game day just plain sucks.
I’d get that bandwidth expanded, pronto. Because how else could I check in and try to earn another point in the Four Square war I have going on with my friends? Every one of those flag poles for the other B1G schools atop the stadium would be replaced with cell towers (the flags would remain; only the poles would change).
Clear the Air
Finally, something has to be done about some of the musical selections. Sure, we’re all sick of "Seven Nation Army," but that’s not even the biggest offender most Saturdays. There are some truly dire selections being chosen by the OSU game presentation crew. It happens at the Schott, too.
Any silence that must be filled musically can be handled by the professionals—the best damn band in the land. If they need a break, there’s plenty of Steely Dan songs available, or we can break into Vico’s Robbie Dupree albums.
Some of my Twitter followers weighed in with their desired changes. Several noted they wanted beer to be sold on site, because everyone loves an eight dollar beer (except the guy who requested 10 cent beer Saturdays—although I'm not sure we need this at the Shoe, ever).
Other suggestions included 3-D hologram replays on the field, required standing on third down and close yardage situations, and moving the flagpole. Many echoed the ones I'd already decided upon (wifi, moving the students closer, etc.), so I guess many of us want the same things.
What would you do with absolute power over the Horseshoe?