Vol. 38, No. 18
Conferences and Workshops Guide: Rent Ohio Stadium on your wedding day
For $50, any love-struck football fan can gain access to Ohio Stadium and propose to the object of his or her affection in the north end zone.
If the answer is "yes," the Buckeye couple can then host its rehearsal dinner in one of seven spaces within the 'Shoe, exchange vows by the end zone flagpole then go back upstairs for the reception.
No one has ever done all three, but renting Ohio Stadium for wedding ceremonies or other functions, such as business meetings and luncheons, are popular ways fans have tied their outside lives with the Buckeyes' gridiron tradition.
"It says Ohio State has a far reach and people are pretty passionate about being a Buckeye," said Mike Pennner, director of event management and facility scheduling for athletics. "The opportunity to be in the stadium is a joy for them."
The stadium's Huntington Club is the most-requested space available to rent. It can hold up to 800 guests, although its four rooms are separated by walls. If a function requires togetherness, about 200 people could fit in the largest space and still receive full banquet service - from burgers and brats to a five-course dinner provided by Ohio State athletics' exclusive caterer Sodexho.
The College of Education recently rented the Huntington Club for a job fair and had attendees from 100 high schools fit comfortably in the facility. And one huge OSU football fan is planning to host his daughter's Bat Mitzvah reception there.
"It's also popular to do wedding rehearsal dinners and we did the Grandview High School prom," Penner said. "The perk of being in the Huntington Club is you can see Ohio Stadium, but many people are renting because they're fans of Ohio State and having their functions on campus is important to them."
There are other ideal spots in the stadium, such as the University Suite, an intimate space for 50 to 60 people that directly overlooks the field and is ideal for rehearsal dinners and luncheons. Or for that true Ohio State experience, the Recruit Room features pictures of former and current players and can seat up to 125. Used during football season to wow potential recruits, the Recruit Room is the most technologically ready of the stadium's facilities with a built-in LCD projector and screen.
But fans aren't only limited to renting Ohio Stadium. St. John Arena, the Schottenstein Center, Bill Davis Stadium, Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the Woody Hayes Athletic Center practice field, the Jack Nicklaus Museum, French Field House and every other athletic facility on campus also is available.
French Field House can accommodate up to 500 guests, making it ideal for conferences, but availability is a little tougher than Ohio Stadium.
"If there's a group that really wants it, we'll approach the coaches first and see if they can take that day off," Penner said. "But we try not to lose sight of the fact we're an athletic department for 900 student-athletes first. So as much as we want to rent French Field House, we're still careful not to displace some of our teams that have no other place to practice."
So far, that hasn't been a problem. Of the more than 200 events Ohio State athletics hosted last year, about 80 percent were held in Ohio Stadium.
The schools and departments on campus are among the athletic department's regular clients. But outside clients are welcome also, an invitation spread only by word of mouth. Until this year, Ohio State has not marketed its facilities.
But new Athletics Director Gene Smith has recognized the significant revenue facility rental can generate for the athletics program, so Penner expects to begin a marketing push to see just how big the department can grow the business. Of course, it's all in the name of keeping the Buckeye sports tradition strong.
"What people don't realize is that when tuition costs rise or the cost of utilities increase, we pay for that, Penner said. "This is one area we can generate some revenue."
Ohio State sets its rental fees in line with similar venues in the Columbus market, Penner said. For a complete list of facilities and rental costs, visit ohiostatebuckeyes.cstv.com/facilities/rental-facilities.html, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 292-2661.