Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday that his athletic department has run several social distancing models to consider having fans in stands at games this fall, and Ohio Stadium, with a normal capacity of more than 100,000, would hold a crowd closer to 20,000-22,000 fans and up to 40,000-50,000 “if guidelines are relaxed.”
“We’ve played with that a little bit as a framework to start as we move forward and think about what we’d ultimately be allowed to do,” Smith told reporters before later clarifying the low-end estimate in a tweet.
“We’re fortunate, with 100,000 seats in the stadium,” he said. “So could we implement the current CDC guidelines, state guidelines around physical distancing, mask requirements and all those types of things in an outdoor environment and have obviously significantly less fans than we are used to? I think it’s possible. I just feel like we have the talent and skill and space capacity to provide an opportunity for a certain number of fans to have access to our particular stadium. Of course, that wouldn’t be true across the country because of capacity. But I think we can get there.”
With seating capacity of 102,780, Ohio Stadium is the fourth-largest on-campus facility in the nation, according to the school’s athletic website.
To determine who would get priority access to the limited seats available, Smith said the athletic department would first turn to the points system already in place but would also consider faculty, staff, students, donors, media, parents and other groups.
“We have to look at those and come up with some strategies within those groups,” Smith said. “Our point system has held the test of time, so that would probably be one. Then, of course, the parents and the guests of our student-athletes and coaches would be a high priority. We’d come up with a strategy, but we haven’t nailed that down.”