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If Ohio State Plays, Horseshoe Will be All But Empty

AD Gene Smith estimates Ohio Stadium's social distancing capacity at 22K

The difficulty of getting Ohio State football tickets is about to hit unprecedented levels in a social distancing era that will likely reduce capacity in Ohio Stadium from 105,000-plus to 22,000.

Athletic director Gene Smith said Thursday models that observe the State of Ohio's recommended six-foot separation radius would cut a typical Saturday crowd in the Horseshoe to "20,000 to 22,000."

Smith confirmed Ohio State's plan to bring football players back to campus on June 8 so they can begin working out in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

The weight room in that facility measures 15,000 square feet, but Smith said OSU will allow only 10 players to work out simultaneously, after which the facility will be sanitized before 10 more players can enter.

He estimates that will permit only 50 players to work out in any one day.

Smith left open the possibility of playing games without fans, something he was hesitant to embrace last month.

"I still struggle with that concept," he said, "but I ultimately can get there."

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Smith said OSU will consult medical opinions on a response if a player tests positive for COVID-19 after working out in its facilities. 

As for whether all Power 5 schools or all Big Ten schools must play for there to be any college football, Smith indicated exceptions could be made to allow for that.

"The perfect scenario is that there's a national solution and that there's some consistency," he said. "I believe it's best if we have all 14 schools [in the Big Ten] playing."

Governors in New Jersey and Illinois have voiced the most pessimistic stances on returning to some level of normalcy, which would involve Rutgers, Illinois and Northwestern.

Smith is committed to playing a season of whatever length OSU's players desire.

"Our kids want to play," he said. "Whatever it takes, we want to bend over backward to give them a chance."

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