As state universities try to fill in gaps left by shrinking government support, Ohio State University is taking steps to open a new financial frontier with its parking lots. University officials say that a private bidder has offered $483 million in a lump sum for a lease to operate university parking facilities for 50 years.
The deal, still tentative, appears to be the first of its kind at a large university, according to higher education groups, though Indiana University confirmed on Monday that it is in the early stages of exploring a long-term lease of its parking facilities.
The City of Chicago made a similar deal in 2009, granting a 75-year lease of its parking meters to a private company.
The Ohio State deal is one of several that the university is pursuing in a drive to build its financial reserves. The university recently sold 100-year bonds, a first for a public university, raising $500 million; it made a $25 million exclusive deal with a local bank for campus A.T.M.’s and other services and is looking into privatizing its airport.