Ohio State game models show potential for 20,000-50,000 fans
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Ohio State game models show potential for 20,000-50,000 fans

By Tommy Fradenburg

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See @tommyfradenburg

On a normal football game day, the Ohio State Buckeyes can welcome upwards of 100,000 rabid fans to Ohio Stadium. In 2020 gatherings of such sizes are unlikely to happen as the world attempts to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak; but that doesn’t necessarily mean fans will be banished from stadiums all year.

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Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday he and his athletic department came up with a model that could allow for up to half capacity with 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,” he said.

“We’re fortunate, with 100,000 seats in the stadium. 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.”

Who Gets In?

With such a dramatic slashing of the attendance, especially with many people already having purchased season tickets; the question arises of how to choose who gets through the gates.

According to Smith the school will first consult its loyalty points list already in place; but would also make considerations for people like faculty, students and parents among others.

“We have to look at those and come up with some strategies within those groups,” he 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.”

COVID-19 Today

As of Thursday evening the United States had 1.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with over 300,000 people reporting as recovered.

But despite the staggering numbers, scientists are learning more and more about the disease and how to combat it.

The Center for Disease Control announced on Thursday new information about how the disease spreads; saying that it is less contagious from surfaces like desks and tables.

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“COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads,” said recently updated CDC guidelines.

But even if fans are allowed to attend games anytime this year, Yale University doctor of infectious diseases Manisha Juthani said “people MUST continue to maintain physical distance, wash hands, and try to avoid touching your face.”

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