Rivalry of Mutual Benefit
How one football game creates a financial boon for Tulsa.
The Sept. 14 game at Chapman Stadium pitting Oklahoma State University against the University of Tulsa will be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
On Sept. 14 at Chapman Stadium, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa will renew their football rivalry in the 2019 Bank of Oklahoma Turnpike Classic.
This will be the 72nd meeting between the Cowboys and Golden Hurricane, but the first in Tulsa since 2011, when OSU, winners of five straight against TU, prevailed 59-33 — a game that didn’t start until after midnight due to severe weather. The teams’ last meeting took place in 2017, when home team OSU won, 59-24.
The Golden Hurricane’s last win against the Cowboys came in 1998, a 35-20 home victory before 40,385 fans.
“It’s a great game for both universities,” says Bruce Howard, TU director of sports broadcasting. “There are a lot of positives on the Tulsa side with playing OSU. You’ve got a great non-conference game. It certainly makes sense for Tulsa and OSU, as well.”
According to Chad Weiberg, deputy athletic director at Oklahoma State, “Both institutions will play non-conference football games every year, so it really boils down to who do you want to play and where are you willing to go to play them. At this point, it makes sense for OSU, both financially and athletically, to have the University of Tulsa on our schedule, and I think they would say the same thing about Oklahoma State.”
Weiberg credits Tulsa as having one of the largest OSU alumni bases, along with being home to the OSU School of Medicine. This series extends OSU’s presence in Tulsa.
TU officials expect this year’s game to generate more than $800,000 in ticket revenue, plus a percentage of concessions, for the university. An away game can cost close to $100,000, when factoring in air travel. Revenue is not shared between schools; the home school pays a guarantee to its competitor. As a private institution, TU does not make that amount public.
The Cowboys will host the Golden Hurricane in Stillwater in 2020 and 2021. In 2024, the teams begin a home-and-home series spanning eight seasons through 2031.
“These types of games keep revenue within the state. That’s very important,” says Derrick Gragg, Ph.D., TU vice president and director of athletics. Along with significant savings, revenue from five sellouts of the in-state rivalry over the next 10 years is sizable. “It draws a lot of interest from both sides. It draws more interest to football within the state. Some of the things are immeasurable, what series like this mean.” The revenue contributes to TU’s overall athletic operating budget.
Not only will TU see a nice financial windfall from this game in terms of more tickets and concessions sold, but businesses near Chapman Stadium are expecting increased traffic from the sizeable contingent of OSU fans who come out to support the Pokes.
One such business is Jane’s Delicatessen, 2626 E. 11th St., which sits just down the street from the stadium. “Oh, I think we’re expecting a huge impact,” says Jeramy Auld, Jane’s co-owner. “Being right here next to the stadium, we’re expecting a lot of traffic. We get a ton of the out-of-town fans on gamedays, which is pretty cool.” Beer and appetizer specials are a norm, and the Jane’s team plans to come up with a few fun sandwiches to coincide with the Golden Hurricane and its opponent.
Another business expecting a full house on gameday is Marshall Brewing Co., 1742 E. Sixth St., a brewery and taproom proud to be owned by a group of TU graduates.
“We’ve got a tailgating spot that we have on the U,” says Wes Alexander of Marshall Brewing. “We’re season ticket holders. We look forward to the rivalry resuming. It’s exciting to know that there’s going to be commerce created with folks coming into town, eating at local restaurants and maybe visiting our brewery.
“We’re obviously one of the closest breweries to the University of Tulsa, and we certainly know that as people travel around, they look for fun activities to do before and after games.”
TU is not marketing any special ticket packages to OSU fans for this game, but does sell a three-game mini-pack for the OSU, Navy and University of Central Florida games starting at $90.
One thing that has defined past OSU/TU games is the festive yet friendly rivalry, one where fans of the two schools get along well and have mutual respect. This meeting should be no different.
At least that’s how OSU grad and Tulsa resident Ben Aggus views this game. “I’m excited to have OSU and TU play because some of the previous meetings have been memorable,” Aggus says. “It’s not a heated rivalry. You support both teams. At least, I do.”
And the in-game atmosphere figures to again be fantastic for fans of both schools. “The tailgating areas, they’ll be full,” Gragg says.
“The suite areas, we feel like, will be full. We’ll be basically packed to capacity. That’s what you want. That’s what helps with recruiting. Student athletes want to play in front of large crowds, and it’s great for the city economically, too. Business will be very good for everybody involved, so we’re excited about it.”