Ohio State fans travel well to watch their football team play, but sales for this season's final game aren't going as they normally do for big-time road affairs.
The Buckeyes are set to take on Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl New Year's Day in Glendale, Arizona. With the matchup being a glorified exhibition game—in the sense that the winner doesn't advance to the national title game—having to travel from Ohio across two time zones to watch a game you could see on television is keeping some fans away.
Buckeye fans have only scooped up around 9,000 of the schools' allotted 12,500 tickets for the Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State spokesman Brett Scarbrough told Eleven Warriors Friday.
"On top of filling all of the priority orders for season ticket holders, we opened seats up to the public and pushed through social media as well as email marketing to the alumni database and previous single game ticket buyers," Scarbrough said.
He added that at the request of the Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State has returned "the majority" of its unsold tickets to them for distribution in local charitable organizations.
The Buckeyes won the first-ever College Football Playoff in 2014, capping an improbable postseason run with victories over Alabama and Oregon. In 2015, expectations for a repeat ran rampant among the fanbase, but were dashed after a 17-14 loss to Michigan State Nov. 21.
No Big Ten East Division championship. No Big Ten championship. No national championship—at least this season.
Round-trip flights to Arizona from Columbus are hovering north of $800 and as a result ticket sales have shifted to those Buckeye fans on the west coast.
The majority of ticket sales for the game on StubHub as of Thursday—32 percent—are from the state of Arizona, according to Communications Manager Cameron Papp. The next highest state for sales is California at 15 percent, followed by Ohio (13 percent) and Indiana (2 percent).
Ohio State is still selling tickets for the matchup on its school website—seating in the lower areas of University of Phoenix Stadium cost $165, while upper deck runs you an even $100—but finding fans willing to fly across the country is proving difficult.
The Fiesta Bowl is the fourth-highest selling ticket on StubHub, Papp said, but also the cheapest among the top-5 sellers:
- 1. Cotton Bowl - $312 average ticket price
- 2. Rose Bowl - $643 average ticket price
- 3. Orange Bowl - $310 average ticket price
- 4. Fiesta Bowl - $215 average ticket price
- 5. Sugar Bowl - $268 average ticket price
Some local ticket agencies aren't having issue finding Ohio State fans to scoop up certain ticket bundles, however.
Megan McCollins, a spokeswoman for Travel Partners in Dublin, Ohio, said the company didn't have a problem finding Ohio State fans willing to shell out the cash to fill their chartered jet.
"We've sold out all of our packages and still have people calling in with requests to get one of them," McCollins said, then mentioning the 226 people heading west with the company that works with the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer.
"Arizona is such a nice place this time of year. Some people were a little bummed not to go to the Rose Bowl or something like that, but the Fiesta Bowl is still a good trip."
Such packages only last so long, though, and are typically grabbed up by those fans able to spend the extra cash.
This isn't a new occurrence for Ohio State when it comes to bowl games. Roughly 8,500 of an allotted 17,500 tickets were sold through the school's ticket office for the 2014 Orange Bowl, and only about half of the 12,500 Ohio State received for the 2012 Gator Bowl found Buckeye fans. For the 2011 Sugar Bowl—that was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions—Ohio State's allotted tickets ended up getting sold out, but not to just Buckeye fans.
In 2009, the last time Ohio State played in the Fiesta Bowl, the school sold about 11,000 of an allotted 17,500 tickets, Scarbrough said.
A Notre Dame spokesman told Eleven Warriors Wednesday the Irish sold out their allotted 12,500 tickets "quickly." The school enacted a lottery system upon completion of the regular season and before its bowl destination was announced, so fans could apply earlier.
The game is scheduled to be the sixth meeting all-time between the two storied programs, with Ohio State winning the last three games. The Buckeyes defeated Notre Dame, 34-20, in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.
Though Ohio State is struggling to sell its tickets for its team's final game of the 2015 season, another Big Ten school—Iowa—isn't having such trouble.
The school had more than 50,000 requests for their allotted 22,000 tickets to see the Hawkeyes play in their first Rose Bowl since 1991, against Stanford New Year's Day. Papp said the demand for that game has been "the most surprising."