• Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine set to re-open Ohio sports venues for spectators, but OHSAA waiting for more info before making changes to winter tournaments

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, February 25, 2021, 5:09 pm

There’s movement on the front of spectators in sports venues, but the Ohio High School Athletic Association cautioned that it isn’t making changes to attendance limits for winter tournaments yet, until more details are forthcoming.

The association tweeted out Thursday afternoon: “OHSAA is aware of today’s announcements from (Gov. Mike DeWine) regarding increases in spectator capacities. When we receive more details and know when the changes can take place, we will provide updates. Until then, there are no changes yet to winter tournament attendance.”

DeWine announced earlier Thursday afternoon that the state would soon be lifting COVID-19 restrictions on a number of venues — banquet halls, wedding receptions, etc. — including sports arenas, allowing the latter to increase spectator limits to 25 percent of the total capacity of an indoor facility, and 30 percent of an outdoor facility. Guidelines such as masks for employees and spectators and social distancing of pods of no more than six people, separated by six feet of social distancing would still be in place, DeWine indicated. 

“This is a start. If the situation improves in spring/summer, this could be expanded,” DeWine said.

The OHSAA announced Tuesday that the girls and boys basketball final four tournaments will be held at the University of Dayton next month, after a variance was approved by the Ohio Department of Health and Public Health, and at the local level to allow a greater number of fans to attend games. 

The girls tournament runs March 11-13, while the boys semifinals and finals will be March 19-21. Specific attendance limits were to be announced later, the OHSAA said at the time. 

Capacity of UD Arena is listed at 13,435, making the potential attendance for the finals 3,358 under the new guidelines. 

“We are so excited that the University of Dayton has such a strong desire to host our basketball state tournaments and for all they did to receive a variance to allow more fans to attend,” OHSAA executive director Doug Ute said in a news release on Tuesday. “We thank the health department officials for their cooperation as we worked through this request and we are committed to following the safety protocols they have in place. Our schools have gone through so much since last March and we are thrilled that the season will culminate with the state tournaments at such a great venue as UD Arena.”