Ohio high schools' association lowers football playoff ticket prices, but legislature eyes further action
After state lawmakers drew attention to football playoff ticket prices beginning last Tuesday, student entry will cost the same online and at the gate when the regional quarterfinals kick off on Friday.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association punted on charging students $6 more for tickets at game-time. Its website now lists all student entries—whether they are paying with a card online or with cash at the field—at a lower asking price of $9 per ticket. Adult entry is $12 per ticket, according to the website.
The voluntary move came Monday, after some legislators accused the interscholastic association of price-gouging students and families.
House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) last Tuesday called the price differential “unfortunate.” By Friday, members of both the Ohio House and Senate had introduced bills to force associations and participating schools to differentiate between adult and student tickets as well as eliminate any variance for using cash.
“We want to make sure, as the legislature, that we are protecting that in Ohio. It's such a valuable thing, and I just hate to see it be exploited for monetary gain,” Stephens said Tuesday.
But the pending bills may not be the only action the legislature considers when it comes to OHSAA, he said.
“We're learning more about the OHSAA and their structure and their purpose,” he said. “This issue, we want to continue looking at it and trying to understand, some of the things I've been told, making sure those are right.”
Rep. Justin Pizzulli (R-Scioto County), who is sponsoring the House’s version of the ticket pricing bill with Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), cited OHSAA’s “bloated budget” as a concern in a Friday news release announcing its introduction.
Under a provision in Ohio’s two-year state budget, which took effect earlier this year, “qualifying” schools are under a mandate to offer cash payments at school-affiliated events—from games to musicals. Those schools include public, STEM, college preparatory and boarding, and chartered nonpublic schools that participate in athletics through conferences like the OHSAA.
In an emailed statement early Wednesday, an OHSAA spokesperson said the association “welcomes the opportunity to speak with legislators regarding our structure and purpose for interscholastic athletics.”