Ohio State Considering Allowing 20,000 to 50,000 fans at home games

Published: 4:54pm, May 21, 2020 EDT | Updated: 4:59pm, May 21, 2020 EDT

Written by Bosun

by Bosun Akinpelu

The spread of the coronavirus has had a big impact on the upcoming college football season and it is forcing a lot of schools to consider playing the season with little or no fans in the stands.

Despite fears of the virus spreading, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday that his athletic department has run several social distancing models to consider having fans in the stands at games this fall.

Smith believes that Ohio Stadium, which has a 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."

The fans that will get to attend games in this scenario will be determined using the points system already in place but the school would 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."

Even though many people will object to having 20,000 to 50,000 people in a stadium because of the pandemic, Smith’s proposal could work if the fans in the stadium stick to the social distancing rules. However, we are talking about football fans who will be drinking, which will make it hard to enforce the rules.