From THON to the Lion Shrine, Penn State is an institution rooted in tradition.
But no tradition better exemplifies the Penn State experience than football games in Beaver Stadium. Whether it be the White Out or “Zombie Nation,” Beaver Stadium has found ways to create memorable experiences for the 107,000 who have flooded the stands since 1960.
Beaver Stadium serves as more than just a venue — it’s a source of recruiting. Not just 5-star recruits but future students and fans of the program.
A football game at Beaver Stadium is a spectacle and serves as a way of creating future Penn Staters. And just as James Franklin said Penn State needs to improve upon its athletic facilities, it must also revamp Beaver Stadium to compete against other programs.
As a part of the university’s Facilities Master Plan announced in 2017, Penn State Athletics is asking for input from select participants on how to best renovate Beaver Stadium following a stadium concept study that began in May 2021.
Because Penn State is based around traditions and Beaver Stadium is a staple for State College, there may be some push back from alumni and Penn State “lifers” who may not want to see any change in Athletics and the stadium.
But just as Beaver Stadium saw its own change in 1959 when the original stadium was disassembled, it will need to modernize in order to enhance the experience for fans and student athletes alike. And in turn, this will benefit the rest of the university.
One of the biggest possible changes is the decrease in total seating. While the idea of “107K Strong” is yet another staple of Penn State, fans must weigh what’s more important: capacity or comfort?
There’s no need for expensive seats since students typically stand for the majority of the game, but some are unstable and could use chair backs. While it may take away from Franklin’s montra, making Beaver Stadium a more welcoming and safe venue will help improve the recruiting process.
There also needs to be an emphasis on improving sustainability efforts. Stadium clean up following games is flawed, and groups of students shouldn’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. on the day after a game to clean up the mess of others.
Something as simple as adding extra trash and recycling bins can help create a more sustainable stadium and community. But the onus remains on attendees to make the right choices with their trash.
Beaver Stadium must adapt and evolve, as these renovations can lead to a more enjoyable experience for all who enter. Not only does it need to be more comfortable but visually appealing as well.
The aesthetic of the stadium is lacking compared to other venues around the Big Ten. The inside is welcoming, but the same cannot be said about the exterior as well as underneath the stadium, which is more industrial.
By putting more emphasis on the spectacle of the game, like the University of Alabama’s program, it’ll show Penn State’s interest in bringing in more fans from all degrees of interest in football. Whether that be improving on the lighting or opting for a wider, HD scoreboard, bettering the quality of experience for fans can maximize profits.
To increase earnings, Penn State should also consider selling alcohol at Beaver Stadium. It wouldn’t be the first Big Ten stadium to offer this at concession stands, and with students and fans already tailgating prior to the game, it seems inevitable that alcohol sales will be permitted. But just like at other venues, alcohol sales need to be heavily regulated to make sure attendees don’t become too rowdy.
While Penn State might not be the first university to sell alcohol, it can still stand out with other renovations. One way of doing that: offering free and efficient Wi-Fi.
This is a rare find at collegiate-level stadiums — the University of Oklahoma led a movement for fast Wi-Fi in 2020 — but that doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. Penn State has the money to make this happen, which will set itself apart from many other universities.
Depending on the success of this survey, Penn State should consider utilizing this format to see what other forms of infrastructure around campus can be improved upon. This could see a high amount of responses coupled with educational insight on how to improve the quality of life on campus.
Facilities all around Penn State are lacking in quality. While the first impressions of the university may revolve around football, the popularity of programs like wrestling cannot be emphasized enough.
If wrestling is going to remain in Rec Hall, then some changes are needed. People will come no matter what, but that doesn’t mean the experience can’t be better. And considering other sports play there, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be spectacular.
On Wednesday, Sandy Barbour announced her retirement — leaving 15 years left in the Master Plan, originally created in 2017, for the next athletic director to take on. They should follow Barbour’s vision and continue to upgrade the facilities across campus with the money brought in by the revamped Beaver Stadium.
Daily Collegian Opinion Editor Joe Eckstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.