Ohio State planning for full capacity at Ohio Stadium in 2021 season

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
The first of Ohio State's seven home games this fall comes against Oregon on Sept. 11.

Capacity crowds could return to Ohio Stadium in the fall.

Ohio State announced Tuesday it had started football season-ticket renewals, with the school planning for its stadium to reach full capacity.

The general public was unable to attend games last season amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaving only the families of players and coaches to watch from the nearly empty stands at the Horseshoe.

The development was not unexpected after athletic director Gene Smith said last month he was hopeful for the “opportunity” to be at 100% capacity.  

In the latest news release, Smith offered similar optimism.

“Our hope is that we are at full capacity for our football games,” he said.

With the pandemic easing, some spectators had also been permitted at the spring game April 17, bringing an announced crowd of 19,180 that filled about a fifth of the stadium, which seats 104,944.

It marked the first time that fans had attended an Ohio State football event in Columbus since late 2019.  

As part of the rollout of season-ticket sales, the athletic department sent out renewal invoices to returning season-ticket holders on Tuesday and said it is accepting deposits.

Faculty and staff tickets are scheduled to go on sale Wednesday, followed by student tickets beginning June 21.

About half of the non-student season-ticket holders from last year rolled over their deposits toward the 2021 season after games were initially called off in August.

Citing sufficient inventory, the department is also looking to sell four-game "flex" plans and two types of three-game "mini" plans in early August. Single-game tickets are then to go on sale later in the month.

The first of the Buckeyes’ seven home games this fall comes against Oregon on Sept. 11.

Ohio State said it is working with local health officials in its effort to reach full capacity at home games and encouraging fans who are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

“You’ll continue to hear that message of support for vaccinations a lot from our department, the university and Columbus Public Health because it is a key component to having a full stadium in the fall,” Smith added in his statement.

Anyone over the age of 12 is now eligible for the vaccine in Ohio.

A public service announcement from Buckeyes coach Ryan Day was included as a part of Tuesday’s announcement.

“It's been a long year. It’s been hard for a lot of us,” Day said in a video message. “We're looking forward to getting back to the ‘Shoe. We're very excited to have a full stadium and a big part of that is getting vaccinated.”

The possibility for capacity crowds emerged in March when the Big Ten began allowing schools to host spectators at sporting events if they remained in compliance with local their health guidelines and regulations.

It removed a league-wide restriction on fan attendance that had been in place since the start of the pandemic.

Most of Ohio's coronavirus health orders end on Wednesday.

Schools across the Big Ten are planning on capacity crowds this fall, including Michigan and Penn State. Like Ohio State, they also have stadiums that also draw more than 100,000 fans, hosting some of the largest crowds for conference games. 

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman