Last Updated on 08/19/2021 by Inside Tailgating
The OSU Home Base crew, currently led by Adam “Dante” Koos, Kurt Kernen,Jason Conner, and Mike Baron, was founded as a small operation by the latter three, way back in 1998. Back then, a small group of 10-15 tailgaters would gather around the same tree every game day with a tiny hibachi grill and a keg or two chained to said tree. In the first few years, local cops would laughingly look the other way when Koos and his friends were drinking openly. But by the fifth year of their operation, local police began to crack down on what was allowed. At an early-November game in 2002, police demanded Home Base’s beer tap be made “not visible.” The solution was hiding the tap under a papier-mâché Brutus (OSU’s mascot) head a tailgater had worn for Halloween. Unfortunately, the police were not amused and ended up ticketing two partiers for drinking, with “hundreds of people stand[ing] around watching with their full beers,” Koos recalls. Later attempts to sneak beers into the game were thwarted, though a police officer escorting Koos’ caught-red-handed friends out of the game was nice enough to explain, “Guys, you’re supposed to drink before the game.”
Home Base’s beloved tree has since been uprooted to make way for a handicap parking lot, and Koos and company now occupy Ag Lot, across the Olentangy River from Ohio Stadium. They have a blaring stereo system (featuring “Hang on Sloopy,” of course) and a giant projection screen hooked up to DirecTV for the partiers who couldn’t score Buckeyes tickets. Their pregame meals are often catered by local favorites Hoggy’s, City BBQ, or Schmidt’s Sausage Haus. Drinks include “apple pie,” that’s moonshine or Everclear added to a concoction of apple cider and cinnamon; and Skullhead vodka, in honor of the OSU Marching Band’s indoor pre-game performance, known as “Skull Session.” Home Base also utilizes a giant, flamingo-shaped beer bong and beer octo-bong.
Home Base has taken tailgating drinking games to new levels, both high and low. An impressive feat is their renowned “Ouch My Toes”. Koos explains, “It’s basically a giant Jenga set made out of two-by-fours, probably about four feet tall. When it falls, you gotta get out of the way;” thus the name. Another innovative game is called “Drinko” – a drinking game in the style of The Price Is Right’s Plinko board. At an away game in Indiana, Koos came up with a much less intricate game called “Bark-Side, Tree-Side.” “I ripped a big piece of bark off a nearby tree. One team would be bark side, one team tree side. We took turns flipping the bark in the air and whatever side it landed on, that was the side that had to drink. We still talk about it to this day and have picked up a piece of bark from time to time to relive this idiotic game.”
Koos has attended 104 consecutive Buckeye home games and counting, and has no plans to slow down. Home Base now has an official, paid membership committee that is putting funds aside to expand their operation. And as far as we can tell, the run-ins with the law have greatly subsided. Though “The Tree” may be gone, Home Base lives on!