Chance to see Meyer's swan song as coach adds to the usual reasons OSU fans have for going to Pasadena

Travel agents at AAA Ohio Auto Club arrived at their offices Tuesday morning to ringing phones and waiting customers.

After selling modestly for a day and a half, Rose Bowl travel packages seemed to get a jolt with the news of Urban Meyer's retirement.

"Interest has definitely gone up," said Kimberly Schwind, a spokeswoman for the Ohio AAA group. "We expect to be sold out by Thursday."

David Matthews of Dublin-based charter operator Prime Tours, which was a pioneer in creating chartered bowl-travel packages for OSU fans in the 1990s, also reported greater activity Tuesday morning, although he said some fans might be holding back because of the back-to-back blows of the Buckeyes not making the College Football Playoff and Meyer's departure.

Join the conversation at and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra

Matthews said of Meyer's announcement: "We were talking this morning about how this might affect sales. It could go either way. Some may think a little negatively about it, while others may see it as a reason to go."

Still, Matthews said Tuesday that he saw an uptick in inquiries.

The Meyer news added a twist to the marketing of a bowl game that has been a favorite of central Ohio travelers for years. Southern California weather and sightseeing can't be beat for those looking to escape a cold New Year's in Ohio. But for some fans, OSU's season has been clouded by Meyer's three-game suspension to start the season, the stinging loss to Purdue and the team's failure to reach the playoff.

The truly faithful might not care. Many die-hard fans, especially those old enough to remember when reaching the Rose Bowl was the pinnacle of an OSU season, still pony up for a trip that can cost between $1,500 and $3,500.

Packages typically include four nights at a hotel in the Los Angeles area; a seat on a chartered flight from Columbus to Los Angeles; ground transportation in Los Angeles; a ticket to the game and perhaps to the Rose Parade that morning; and often little extras such as refreshments and souvenirs. 

AAA Ohio Auto Club's rates have gone up modestly since OSU's most recent appearance in the Rose Bowl nine years ago. On the club's website, packages including airfare start at about $3,000, while packages without airfare start at $1,745. Upgrading to premium seating at the game can add hundreds of dollars.

Package prices might sound steep, but they often don't represent much of a premium over what people would pay to try to piece together a trip on their own.

Matthews said that only a relative handful of tickets are sold to the public via Ticketmaster. On Tuesday, thousands of people were waiting when $160 tickets went on sale on Ticketmaster's website at 1 p.m. Eastern time, and the website placed a one-ticket-at-a-time limit on buyers. Round-trip airfare with one stop on the way to Los Angeles was running at more than $700 on Tuesday.

Prime Tours sells the same air-and-land packages as AAA, but it also offers its own land-only packages starting at about $1,300 per person for those staying four to a room. Prime Tours and AAA both offer a discount of at least $200 to those who don't need a game ticket.

One thing's for sure: Those who don't make the trip but tune into the game on television on Jan. 1 will see a sea of scarlet in the stands of the Rose Bowl.

"The Rose Bowl is a historic game, and Buckeye fans travel very well," said AAA's Schwind. "For a lot of people, it's on their bucket list to go to this game."