Ohio State always keeps an eye out for what is next, what is better and what it can do to try and improve the experience of its fans.
Tuesday, it took another step forward in achieving that goal in terms of football. Director of Athletics and Vice President Gene Smith announced a $42 million project to improve C and B-deck at Ohio Stadium. However, the project will result in the removal of 2,600 seats, dropping its capacity from 104,944 to 102,854.
"We are committed to providing our fans, players and coaches with one of the best facilities in the nation," Smith said at a press conference. "We knew we had to get some of this done in order to avoid future degradation on the cement on C-deck.
"At the same time, we have fans requesting upgraded seating options. We see this as a great opportunity to accomplish both projects. It's an investment in the stadium that is beloved by so many."
The project will span from 2017-20 and is part of a longer-term plan enacted by Ohio State more than three years ago. A rundown of the scheduled updates, per a university release:
- Restore and re-coat the 94-year-old concrete on C-deck;
- Upgrade power distribution systems for the east, west and south stands;
- Improve and upgrade B-deck to include better lighting, larger televisions, and improved sound system and better scoreboards (with three more transformers), which will improve the experience of fans with obstructed-view seats; and
- Renovate the premium seating area to consolidate the university suites into one University Suite and add 35 loge boxes and 12 luxury suites.
According to a university press release, design and build process is set to be completed this fall. The C-deck restoration takes place in phases from starting 2017 and ending in 2020. The 2,600 seats will begin to be removed with the 2018 season. University Suite expansion is set for completion in August 2017, with the other suites and loge seats completed in 2019.
"When we do the loge suites and the suites, which happen to be an extension of the suites on the northwest B-deck area, during the '17 season and '18 season," Smith said, "you'll see some construction.
Smith said the athletic department plans on losing $1.8 million in revenue with the reduced seating, but figures to get some of that back with the new loge seats and luxury boxes.
"The loges are something our team has studied for a long time," Smith said. "We looked at schools across the country that have done it. It's unique for Ohio Stadium, but we know those will also sell pretty fast as well. It's just something new that we haven't had in our facility."
Ohio State last updated the stadium in May 2014 with the addition of of 2,522 more seats in south stands, permanent lights and concrete waterproofing. That job cost the university $13.7 million.
"This is the right size for us," Smith said of the new capacity. "We want to make it a better experience for the fans."
Smith also added he does not foresee a situation where Ohio State would sacrifice naming rights to a corporate entity, thus causing a change in name to Ohio Stadium.
"I don't see that happening, I really don't," Smith said. "I don't see someone coming forward with the type of number that would make me think about it. We have a brand that is Ohio Stadium.
"I don't see us in a spot where we need to do that."