Ohio State is planning to fill Ohio Stadium at “likely no more than 20 percent capacity” if there is a college football season this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The university announced the figure in a message to season ticket holders on Tuesday. In the message, Ohio State said physical distancing and “mandatory face masks or facial coverings” will be requirements “if games are played.” Additionally, tailgating will be prohibited and the school’s traditional "skull session" pregame pep rallies at St. John's Arena will not be held.
“While no final decision has been made regarding the 2020 football season, the Department of Athletics has been working diligently with university leaders, public health experts and government officials to create game day plans that protect the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, staff, faculty and fans,” the message from the Ohio State athletic department said.
Ohio Stadium holds 104,944, so 20 percent capacity would be just under 21,000 — 20,988 to be exact. Because of the significantly limited capacity, changes in ticket quantity and seat locations are likely, the school said.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State has sold 44,320 season tickets at an 87 percent renewal rate. Season ticket holders who want to opt out will not be penalized in any way, the school said. Refunds or future credit for ticket purchases or donations can be applied.
“We understand not all fans will feel comfortable attending games for health and safety reasons, or may not be interested in attending due to reduced capacity guidelines,” the message stated. “Therefore, we are allowing all season ticket holders to opt out of their 2020 football season tickets commitment without longevity or eligibility penalty, if they wish.”
Back in May, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told reporters that the school had looked at an array of scenarios, including a concept in the 20-22,000 range. He later added that those figures could be doubled if social distancing guidelines were “relaxed.” But the trends have not gone in a positive direction, leaving the idea of holding a college football season this fall completely up in the air. Earlier this month, Smith told reporters that the university would likely stick with the CDC’s physical distancing requirement of six feet.
The Big Ten previously announced that should a season be held, it will play a conference-only schedule.
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