College football: Ohio Stadium capacity trimmed to 20 percent for Buckeyes games this year


By Nathan Baird - Advance Ohio Media



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COLUMBUS — If Ohio State football plays games at Ohio Stadium in 2020, it will do so at 20% capacity.

The athletic department made that announcement to season ticket holders Tuesday, along with several other restrictions for fans attending games this fall.

The guidelines were deemed necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic that already triggered the cancellation of the Big Ten’s non-conference fall sports contests and has threatened games being played at all this fall.

“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 letter read.

According to the letter, face coverings will be mandatory for all fans in attendance, and physical distancing will be implemented. Tailgating will not be allowed for the 2020 season, and the traditional “Skull Session” pregame festivities at St. John’s Arena will not be held. Concessions inside Ohio Stadium will be limited.

Ohio Stadium has a capacity of roughly 105,000, so a 20% cap would mean about 21,000 fans per game. An Ohio State athletics spokesperson said student tickets will “absolutely” remain a part of the reduced capacity.

The letter said season ticket holders who previously purchased 1-10 tickets can retain a maximum of two tickets, those purchasing 11-20 can retain a maximum of four and those purchasing more than 20 can retain a maximum of eight.

Season ticket holders who opt out of attending games in 2020 will not lose their priority standing for future ticketing. They have until Monday to opt in for the season.

Those who opt out can receive a refund, receive credit toward future ticket purchases, or donate their payment to support student-athlete scholarships. Those who choose to roll over their payment or make a charitable contribution will receive bonus points towards their 2021 seat selection.

Ohio State also said it reserves the right to refund orders if necessary.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in May that his department was gaming scenarios in which capacity could be in the 20-22,000 range. He later clarified that capacity could reach 40-50,000 if distancing guidelines and other local restrictions were loosened.

However, Franklin County, of which Columbus is the county seat, currently requires face coverings by mandate of Gov. Mike DeWine. The city has seen a 220 percent rise in COVID-19 cases since reopening on June 1.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force designated Columbus as a potential coronavirus “hot spot.”

Ohio State reported $50.5 million in football ticket revenue for 2018-19 — the most recent season for which data was available — and an average of 53.04 million over the past five seasons. It is the single-largest contribution from one sport to the overall Ohio State athletics budget.

The Buckeyes already were forgoing two football home games due to the Big Ten’s decision to play only conference games in 2020. Ohio State currently has five Big Ten home games scheduled, but it is not yet known if the conference will alter the schedule in terms of opponents or number of games.

The coronavirus pandemic already wiped out Ohio State’s spring practices after one week. The Buckeyes’ voluntary workouts were also interrupted by a spike in positive tests among athletes.

In the event that any 2020-21 Ohio State Athletics events are permanently canceled, or are played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending, ticket holders will have the option to receive a refund for the affected game tickets, receive a credit toward a future ticket purchase, or donate their ticket payment(s) to support student-athlete scholarships. This guarantee will apply to all ticketed athletic events.

Further information can be found at ohiostatebuckeyes.com or by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at 800-GOBUCKS (462-8257) from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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By Nathan Baird

Advance Ohio Media

ONLY ON LIMAOHIO.COM

Read more about the pandemic response at LimaOhio.com/tag/coronavirus.

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