Ever wondered what a rollicking sellout of 22,000 fans might sound like in Ohio Stadium? You may just get to find out this coming season.
While the college football season itself is still up in the air, momentum is headed in a positive direction at the moment, which also has school administrators moving on to next steps in how to make the season happen.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith seemed optimistic about a season taking place, but it was pretty clear it will not be your typical season ticket.
Smith is coming around to the idea of playing the games with no fans in the stands, but would much rather have some kind of attendance. In discussing some of the scenarios and models for the upcoming season, he said that because of Ohio Stadium’s size, he believes fans can be accommodated.
“Could we implement the current CDC guidelines, the state guidelines around physical distancing, mass requirements, and all those type of things in an outdoor environment, and have obviously significantly less fans than what we are used to? I think it’s possible,” he said.
“I just feel like we have the talent, skill, and the space capacity to provide an opportunity for a certain number of fans to have access to our particular stadium.”
The number that Smith mentioned with social distancing being implemented would put Ohio Stadium’s capacity at 20,000-22,000. That number isn’t just based on seats available and having adequate room in the stands, it’s a square footage issue and also encompasses the concourses, entrances, exits, bathrooms, kitchens, concessions, and everywhere else social distancing guidelines would be in place.
Grocery stores and big box stores have implemented similar plans, allowing a certain number of people per square foot.
For instance, Walmart’s current capacity regulations dictate that they allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet of building at a given time. This is roughly 1/5th of the average Walmart store’s capacity. Kroger has limited their capacity to 1 customer per 120 square feet, which is half of the international building code’s calculated capacity for grocery stores.
As to the million-dollar question of who might be getting those 22,000 tickets, there is a semblance of a plan in place, but you can expect about 80,000 people to hate it.
“So we would obviously have to look at our [season ticket holder] point system for example that we have in place,” Smith said. “We do have a diversity in constituency throughout our stadium. So we have to make sure that we look at each individual group, faculty, staff, students, donors, Varsity O, parents of athletes, all of those different constituencies, media.
“So we have to look at those and come up with some strategies within those groups. 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. And so we would come up with a strategy. We haven’t nailed that down.”
[Update 5:06 pm: Gene Smith tweeted out the following, stating that capacity could reach 50,000 with relaxed guidelines.]
Just want to clarify:
The number of fans we could host in Ohio Stadium this fall under physical distance guidelines could be as low as 22k, but also may be as many as 40-50k if guidelines are relaxed. pic.twitter.com/VEUPFPc4V8
— gene smith (@OSU_AD) May 20, 2020