COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Many Buckeye Football fans are celebrating the opportunity to watch the team play in-person. This week, the Ohio State University announced it’s allowing up to 19,180 people inside Ohio Stadium on April 17 for the Spring Game.

“Students, everyone, all the fans want to be in the stadium. So it’s exciting,” said Buckeye fan Gabe Edwards.

Julia Lombardo, an OSU sophomore who admits she is not a football herself added, “If there are people excited about sports on campus, everyone’s going to feed off that energy I believe. So it’ll be good, I think.”

The annual contest is the first in more than a year at the university allowing public spectators. Approximately 4,500 general public tickets will be sold for $5 and another 2,500 will be available for students free of charge. Part of the capacity will be filled with families of football players and coaches, with any unclaimed tickets made available to the general public.

Additionally, 10,000 designated “appreciation seats” will be reserved for Ohio State Wexner Medical Center staff and other on-campus employees who have been serving on the frontlines during the pandemic.

“We’re getting through it. We’re starting to get back to normal just a little bit,” said Daniel Canfield, a research assistant at the James Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Neurosurgery Resident Dr. Asad Akhtar added, “We’re all just doing our jobs like we’re supposed to do, but it’s a nice touch.”

He explained many medical workers may be naturally hesitant to return to in-person gatherings while COVID-19 cases rise, but he would feel safe as long as attendees follow proper safety protocols.

“Obviously if we all wear masks and we’re all properly distanced away. Some of us are vaccinated, some of us are not. I’d be more comfortable if we all were. But it would be very exciting [to go to the game],” Dr. Akhtar said.

The Spring Game safety procedure was developed with guidance from health experts at Columbus Public Health and in accordance with the Governor’s health orders.

Safety measures for include:

  • Masks will be mandatory for all guests and event staff at all times while attending the spring game as well as additional events at Ohio State’s athletic venues and facilities.
  • All guests and staff will be asked to remain six feet apart.
  • In areas where the department anticipates lines forming, there will be ground markings placed six feet apart on the floor/pavement.
  • “Control Staff” and restroom attendants will remind guests to remain diligent with hand washing and safe distancing.
  • No tailgating in parking lots or anywhere on campus
  • Fans will be reminded to stay seated while actively eating or drinking.
  • Ohio State has a No Bag Policy. Bags or purses of any size are NOT permitted in Ohio Stadium. Wallets and wristlets no larger than 5”x8”x1” are permitted.
  • All items and persons entering Ohio Stadium are subject to security screening and inspection. Guests entering with medical, dietary, or childcare may enter through the Band Entrance (near Gate 10) or Press Entrance (near Gate 23) to have their items inspected.

Some fans said they’re glad to accept the terms and see any in-person athletics.

“Mask up, social distance, be smart. I think we’ve heard enough of that here and all the students and everyone can handle that,” Edwards said.

General public tickets will go on sale at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 12. Season ticket holders will receive an email with information about presale opportunities ahead of time.