OSU Ponders Seating Changes At The Schott

It has long been a source of debate -- seating for Ohio State men's basketball at Value City Arena. Well, it seems that OSU officials are quietly working on some plans to move some seating groups at VCA to improve the atmosphere inside the 8-year-old arena. Click here for more.

Baby steps. Crawl before you walk. Put one foot in front of the other. Put your pants on one leg at a time.

These are all popular clichés used with anything in life that's moving slowly, yet surely.

For Ohio State men's basketball fans crossing their fingers for the last few years that changes would be made to the atmosphere of the Value City Arena, the tireless clichés may soon be tossed out the window.

You've heard the rumors. You've heard innuendo and speculation.

Although the final details cannot yet be provided, there will be at least a few new looks to the home Ohio State basketball games beginning this November.

Seating changes could move the media to the northeast corner (section folded up here)

"It hasn't been finalized yet, so I can't really comment too much on it," said Bill Jones, who recently assumed the role of OSU's athletic ticket office director. "But we are certainly exploring several options and looking into a few different ideas."

The changes that are being made, or at least can be made, pertain mostly to the building's structure and what cannot be changed.

For starters, Jones explains that the personal seat licenses and endowment seating in the Huntington Club level, otherwise known as the 200-level of the building, sections 121-124 of the lower bowl on the arena's north side and the endowment seats on the floor level and east side all cannot be changed. So essentially, the entire 200-level and the north side of the lower bowl will remain the same next season.

"Those seats cannot be restructured because these people have lengthy contracts for them," added Jones. "So essentially all of the PSLs and endowment seats we must leave as is."

That leaves a little over half of the lower bowl to work with.

As the seating arrangement is structured currently, students sit behind the west basket, which is section 114. Faculty and students are mixed in for most of sections 111-101, as well as sections 134 and 128 while the media is placed in section 131 behind the east basket.

One change that could be made, according to sources, is the media will be placed in the northeast corner, or section 128, with possible media overflow up in the press box should the university decide to use it.

Although there is no guarantee that is where the media seating will end up, it does appear the media will move next season.

"You've probably heard the media reports, so you can kind of get an idea," said Jones. "If you look at what's going on with the media, you can see the reshuffling that's taking place in the lower bowl."

By moving the media, the door opens for students to be placed behind the east basket as well as the west basket -- another common complaint of the Value City Arena seating in years past.

It's also rumored that students may line the south floor behind the benches and scorer's table in sections 105 and 106. That would create an atmosphere where students are surrounding the playing court on three sides, including the south section of the lower bowl that is seen on camera during televised games.

"It's very premature, obviously, but we have looked at different ways to reshuffle the students and faculty within the lower bowl," Jones explained. "One new challenge is that we have never had student season tickets before, so since that's something hypothetically we could try, we have to figure out how the numbers would work.

"Hypothetically speaking, in the past if only 100 students would show up as we only had partial student packages and single-game tickets, the areas we had set aside for students would be empty," he added.

Other reports that single-game student tickets will be lowered, although the general admission prices may go up for this season by a small amount.

But the opportunity for season tickets for students would be a first.

"We're thinking about it," Jones said of the idea. "We've looked at some other schools and talked to some other schools that do it, and it's something we would like to do."

The trick is for Ohio State to balance the season tickets, faculty tickets, single-game tickets and split-game packages with assigned seating versus the student sections.

Certainly, with OSU coming off a Big Ten championship season and bringing in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, demand for tickets at VCA this season could be high.

Balancing the various ticketing groups is one of many challenges to the job Jones and Ohio State will have to face to be able to finalize the new seating.

"If we do it, we need to make sure the split packages are done so the bigger games are split up evenly," he added of the ticket packages. "But in terms of the remodeling of the lower bowl, it has yet to be determined and we will have to run it by the administrative council and get it approved by all parties.

"There are a lot of people working on this and a lot of different people we have to listen to," Jones added. "I think we're looking at this hopefully being done in the next month or two."

When the building was erected in the fall of 1998, the personal seat licenses were a necessary part of construction and financing. And since then, everyone realizes it's an obstacle to making changes.

However, Jones understands the complaints about the seating arrangement and he says Ohio State has also acknowledged some of the issues.

"As far as realignment, I've been on this position for four months and it was being discussed well before I took the job," Jones said. "From day one, I think we've started talking about it and thinking about what needed changed."

But reportedly, both Ohio State head basketball coach Thad Matta and athletic director Gene Smith have been playing a very vocal role in helping to address potential changes.

Jones is unaware of who started the movement, but said he's noticed a bigger push recently.

"Someone got the ball rolling and I think we've made a lot of progress in throwing around ideas," he concluded. "It's always been something we've talked about, but just not been able to go further."

Finally, Ohio State basketball fans have something more than just annoying clichés to look forward to. This basketball season, they may see a little different look in the Value City Arena.

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