In my dreams, I’m UC’s athletic director and I’ve somehow tapped into a large supply of money. Every college sports fan think they can be an AD, and this is my entry. Note: This is not to detract from Mike Bohn, who is killing it. I just happen to think I have crazy ideas that need to be shared.
Here are some of the things I’d do, ranging from the basic to the bombastic. Read the first part of this series first.
Give out t-shirts for a color-themed game. And not just to students, but to every single fan. I understand the costs involved here, but it seems like money well spent when you’re talking about making an impression on national television. The kick-back in brand exposure is well worth the cost, especially when you can rope in sponsors to offset the spend upfront. UCLA is coming to Nippert in 2019 and the athletic department should be pulling out all the stops and then some.
Fill the basketball out-of-conference schedule with local teams. The biggest reason UC plays teams like NC Central instead of Ohio University is financial-based. In my dream scenario, I’m pumping our buy games full of local teams. I want Miami, Ohio, Akron, Kent State, Toledo, Bowling Green, NKU, WKU, Ball State, etc. on the schedule. Local teams like those would boost the RPI over teams like Samford, provide a little extra fan interest on the UC side, and probably even sell a few tickets on the opponent’s side. Oh, and now that Ohio State is on the schedule, let’s make Dayton happen.
Establish some kind of semi-formal relationship with the MAC. Right now, Toledo’s athletic department is kind of the pride of the MAC. Get them to come down to Nippert at a discount by offering a basketball home-and-home. The Rockets are solid in both sports, so it would be a worthwhile venture. Three years ago, Bowling Green was that team for the MAC but the ‘Cats struck a bit too late, facing them in basketball after their peak and not scheduling a football game at all. Before that, it was Ohio University. The MAC is local and usually has one or two teams where this small arrangement would be worth it. I think this is something that should be explored. It would give UC basketball a decent buy game at home, a decent buy game on the road that fans can travel to, and fill a hole on the football schedule with another home game against a solid team from the region.
Play games at FC Cincinnati’s new stadium. Let’s assume the stadium is coming and that it’s coming to Newport. If you read my first post in this series, you’ll know I’m a big fan of playing sports in unusual venues. A football game in a brand new MLS stadium would fit the bill. Play WKU there or something. I don’t really care, but it would be fun for a one-off experience. When I first mentioned this idea in June, the followers after my own heart immediately suggested basketball games there. Outdoor basketball games are a novel idea, and they’ve happened before. Making them work in Cincinnati would probably be impossible. If you’re going to ask kids to play outside, it can’t be 45 degrees and rainy, which is typically how mid-November weather works in Cincinnati.
Make a Bearcat beer. UC wants nothing to do with this idea, and it’s starting to drive me crazy. I guess I understand the thought process, but it also seems conservative to the point of being counterproductive. Plenty of schools are doing this now, and it’s no longer an exotic idea. Want to have a stake in the most popular craft beer in Clifton? Make it a UC beer. It wouldn’t even have to be as bold as calling it “Bearcat Beer.” Let Rhinegeist make a red and black beer called “Clifton,” let MadTree make a “Binturong Brew.” It’s 2017, let’s think outside the box.
Put a “football party deck” on the roof of the rec center next to the scoreboard. Now we’re cooking with gas. How many people would buy a ticket to sit up there? I would. Unfortunately this idea isn’t scalable, so it wouldn’t add a significant number of seats — something I’m always trying to accomplish. However, you could definitely have 20 people hanging on some type of rooftop patio above the north concourse. If you’re really willing to push the limit, put a bar up there with it. Better make the railings tall.
Turn Armory Fieldhouse into a restaurant/bar. In my last article, I mentioned reviving the place, but now I’m going to flesh it out with a real idea. First off, credit to Trenton for this idea. It’s outside the box, and that’s why I love it. It honestly makes more sense than you’d think. It’s simply called The Armory. Picture this: Turn the main gym in Armory into a giant beer hall (think OTR’s Taft Ale House at a larger scale) with bench seating, a huge bar with screens above it, and a massive projector screen on the south wall. It’s right next to both Nippert and The Shoe, so it’s the new game day spot. The space is big enough that it could hold a good number of people. For big home games, overflow fans who didn’t get a ticket (or would rather watch in a bar setting) can hang out “downstairs” from the arena in The Armory. Plus, starting a couple hours before tipoff/kickoff, you could even institute a cover charge for anyone without a ticket to the game who wants to watch from the restaurant. Think of it like a “half-ticket.” Not quite at the game, but a step up from hanging at a bar on Calhoun or in OTR. For road games, it’s the official watch party location. Imagine how crazy that place would get for Shootouts in Norwood, March Madness, or bowl games. It would also be versatile enough to use for banquets, fundraisers, concerts, etc. It’s a good idea that turns a virtually unused location into a source of pride… and money.
As with the last edition of this, feel free to shoot me ideas via Twitter or OhVarsity@gmail.com and I may add it here. I love crazy ideas.