To get to December and beyond, the team and university is asking all fans to stay vigilant with safety protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic – Together As Buckeyes, we’re tackling COVID-19. To reinforce this, Ohio State’s public health campaign will be expanded this week to include safety messaging on digital kiosks along High Street from the Gateway to the Short North, advertisements, digital banners and numerous social media efforts including videos by Gene Smith, Ohio State players and Dr. Jim Borchers, and support from university leaders including Ohio State University President, Kristina M. Johnson.
“We need our students and all fans to watch the games at home and to not have or attend large watch parties,” Ohio State Director of Athletics Gene Smith said. “COVID-19 cases are rising, including in Ohio, and we can’t have our games become virus-spreading events. So we’re sincerely asking our fans to avoid large watch parties, don’t come onto campus because there’s no tailgating anyway, and enjoy watching the Buckeyes with family or limited numbers of friends because, this year, every game is a home game.”
2020 Game Day Operations
There will be many game day changes in and around Ohio Stadium this year as the athletic department’s main priority is the health, safety and wellness of the students, faculty, staff and visitors to the campus.
“Our goal is to create a safe environment for all with well-thought out guidelines in place,” Smith said. “We are also working to find ways for our fans to enjoy our great traditions and game day experiences – even if it means doing so in new ways. Our fans are engaged in our ‘cardboard cutouts’ opportunity to have their photos in the stands, and we’ll be bringing the excitement of game day in Ohio Stadium to their phones with our second-screen stream which will feature some live moments inside the stadium.”
Monitoring the pandemic and taking direction from state and local health authorities and government experts as well as university leadership is ongoing. There is also an acknowledgement that modifications to protocols and plans may have to still be made. As of now, the below information can provide insight as to what four football Saturdays on Ohio State’s campus will be like in 2020.
- Every game is a home game. Visit https://go.osu.edu/everygame-homegame for video messages and links to the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes web portal, the Ohio Dept. of Health and the Scarlet Saturday second-screen stream.
- No tailgating. Tailgating will not be allowed in parking lots or anywhere on Ohio State’s campus. Ohio State University campus police will be patrolling lots and will ask potential tailgaters to leave the premises.
- No fans. The Big Ten Conference determined that games this year would not have fans in attendance, with the exception of players’ and coaches’ families. Numbers vary by school, but Ohio State will have 656 player and coaching family guests at the games and visiting teams will have up to 400.
- Physically distanced seating. The limited number of guests at Ohio State home games will be physically distanced across 10 A Deck seating sections; six sections for home team guests and four for visitors.
- The Big Ten Conference has provided each school with crowd noise “murmur” audio tracks for use during the games. The loudness/volume will stay at 70 decibels – no higher – during the run of game play, and it can be increased to a maximum of 90 decibels during celebration moments … for the home team, of course.
- Temperature and symptoms check. All media, game day employees, network TV production crew and facility and operations staff will be required to take a symptoms check, including a temperature assessment, before being cleared to enter Ohio Stadium.
- Masks and facial coverings. Masks and/or face coverings will be required to be worn at all times in all areas of Ohio Stadium.
- Clean field. No one will be admitted onto field level at Ohio Stadium unless they are in Tier I or Tier II for Covid-19 testing, or are the TV network camera/production crews who are also tested at least on the Friday and Saturday before the game. Tier I testing is six days a week. Tier II is twice a week, on Friday and Saturday morning.
- The working media area of the press box will have a maximum capacity of 40 individuals, down from 230 during a typical season.
- Photographers/videographers. All photography/videography will be shot from AA Deck with a high angle location at the top of A Deck. Credentialed photographers – 22 total – will have designated positions from which to shoot game action and stadium atmosphere.
- Elevators in the Huntington Club lobby will be designated accordingly to limit density: team coaching staffs (#2), press box (#3) and photographers/videographers/NFL scouts (#4 and #5) with facility and operations staffs using #3, #4, #5 and a fourth – #7 – near Gate 7.
- Ohio Stadium capacity. Ohio Stadium has a capacity of 102,780. The capacity of Ohio Stadium during the 2020 season will be right at 1,600, a total that includes everyone in the facility (public safety, staff, concessions, Red Coats, fans, teams, officials, game management, etc.).
- Concessions will feature a limited menu of fan favorites with an entirely mobile and cashless option to offer the fastest service possible. This can be done by the use of credit or debit card, ordering through the official Ohio State app or express line pick-up through the use of QR codes. With every concessions stand having the ability of mobile ordering and pick-up, it will increase speed of service and reduce unnecessary lines.
- The Ohio State Marching Band will not perform at games this year, nor will it conduct its traditional “skull session” at St. John Arena before games. Fans can watch virtual performances on the Scarlet Saturday livestream and on TBDBITL social media channels.
- Cheerleaders, spirit squad and Brutus Buckeye. Cheer and spirit squad performances, as well as the antics of Brutus Buckeye, will not take place at Ohio Stadium.
- Signature games and on-field honors. On-field honors and pageantry will be eliminated from the games. There will not be Homecoming, alumni band and alumni cheerleader festivities at games this year, nor will past Big Ten championship teams and individual honorees be celebrated.
- No Blackwell. No team walk. The football team will not be staying in the Blackwell Hotel on Friday nights before home games because the facility is taking on additional uses this fall. The team’s traditional pregame walk from the Blackwell to St. John Arena to Ohio Stadium will not take place. The Buckeyes will bus to Ohio Stadium from their Friday night lodging.
- Fan cardboard cutouts. Giant photos of several thousand fans will populate sections of A Deck, as fans can purchase cutouts of themselves that will remain in the stadium all season. Purchase cutouts here: https://ohiostatebuckeyes.com/fan-cutouts/
- Scarlet Saturday. Each home game Saturday, Buckeye fans will be encouraged to experience and enjoy a slice of game day through a Scarlet Saturday production, a live-streamed second-screen experience from inside Ohio Stadium. Learn more at go.osu.edu/scarletsaturday
- Victory Bell. The tradition of the Victory Bell being rung after every victory in Ohio Stadium will continue this season.