A larger student section and multiple gates for students to enter through are part of the Penn State athletic department's future plans for seating inside Beaver Stadium, Associate Athletic Director Greg Myford said Sunday night.
Effective at the beginning of the 2011 season, about 800 new seats would be available to Penn State students, Myford said. The student section would move from its current range of seats between the ED section and past the tunnel to seats between the EA and WA sections. That would include upper deck seating for students sitting in sections EA and WA.
Students would also be permitted to enter the stadium through Gates A and B under the new plan, Myford said.
Officials are considering selling the additional 800 seats on a single-game basis, a first for the student section. In one proposal Myford presented, single-game student tickets not sold for a particular game would be opened up to the general public.
Myford said no changes are in store for next season. Notices of the change will be mailed to Nittany Lion Club members shortly after the regular season.
Personal seat licenses would not be implemented for Nittany Lion Club members, contrary to other reports.
"A seat license is typically thought of as two things," Myford said. "They tend to be long-term agreements. We do tickets on an annual basis. Our season ticket holders decide each year how much they're going to contribute. There's no long-term obligation associated with this."
Seat position in the stadium will now be factored into each minimum Nittany Lion Club donation. Myford said some club members who weren't giving at all or were giving very little may have to pay more to retain their current seats. Regardless, he said, their seats could be moved to a different part of the stadium if they aren't willing to pay more.
"It will allow us to freeze the ticket price for student tickets," Myford said. "The revenues that will be generated by the new program will allow us to provide that ticket freeze for the public as well."
"If you're already giving generously," Myford added, "there are many people who won't be impacted by this at all."
It's not yet clear who the 800 new student section seats would displace -- Myford said no seats are being physically added to the stadium. But he acknowledged some non-student seats will be shifted.
"I guess they certainly have to come from somewhere," he said. "The net of that is allowing us to expand the student section."
Locations for student-section staples such as the 'S'-Zone and the Blue Band have not been determined, although Myford said he would like the student body's input.
Myford said the restructuring came as a reality of the financial situation facing Penn State's athletic department. Football and men's basketball are the only two profit-generating teams among Penn State's 29 varsity sports.
"I think it's all about focusing on what we need to do to remain competitive," Myford said. "It's about remaining competitive in all of our 29 sports. It becomes more and more difficult to do that."
And although it is a financial decision in part, he said the seating change will make the student section a more formidable presence during the game. He expects the new configuration to contribute to a louder end zone, with some students being pulled down from upper sections and concentrated closer to the field.
"It's not solely about finances and money," he said. "But it's also naÃ¯ve to ignore that that is an integral part of it."