It was announced on Friday that Beaver Stadium may be the recipient of a renovation in the near future, the first news on this front since 2019, when former AD Sandy Barbour first announced the intention to upgrade the aging facility.
This latest news appears to be a bit more concrete than what was discussed nearly 4 years ago, and perhaps a bit more grounded as well.
Penn State President Dr. Bendapudi has said that “renovation for Beaver Stadium is the direction we want to take as it is far more economical than a new build.”
This is good news, as the cost to tear down the existing stadium and build a brand new one is likely not in the cards. There’s really not a place for a new stadium, meaning a full teardown and rebuild would make the team homeless for at least one season, though likely for two or three. Unless and until structural issues are found, Beaver Stadium is likely to be Penn State football’s home for the foreseeable future.
It was also announced that no part of the project will be funded by tuition, student fees, or any of the educational budget. As Penn State has one of the few self-funded athletic departments in the country, they have the luxury of using the excess money to help fund any improvements.
So what sort of improvements could we expect? It’s all still in the hypothetical realm, but ideally I think we’d see at least some of the following:
Technology upgrades, including Wi-Fi
This has to be on the list, as the technology in Beaver Stadium is frankly lacking. Additional Wi-FI routers are a must, as the internet is essentially a vital utility in 2023.
Again, the bathrooms are one of the areas of the stadium that routinely draw jeers from fans, both Penn Staters and visitors alike. Troughs, lack of warm water, long lines all add to the issues present in the bathrooms today. Due to the fact that the outside of the stadium is exposed, most of the piping is just as exposed, which will need to be addressed.
The concessions at Beaver Stadium are fine, I guess, but compared to some other stadiums they always seem a bit dated. I’d ideally like to see a bit more variety, and really, just an overall improvement in the facilities themselves. It doesn’t help that you have to stand in the cold for forever when trying to get some delicious chicken fingers either.
Some sort of façade
Speaking of the last two points, a façade enclosing the outside of the stadium, at least at the lower levels, would be nice. This maybe ends up being farther down the list of improvements, but would certainly help with both winterizing the pipes, and providing fans more refuges from the cold than just standing in the bathrooms. I’ll always love the erector set look of the stadium, but it’s hard to argue that some of the concept art from a couple years ago doesn’t look fantastic.
Wouldja look at that? Just look at that.
This will likely ruffle some feathers, who value bigness over all else, but to those people I say: stop overcompensating, quality is better than quantity. Go lift your Ram a bit more if you must, but the days of 107,000 may be limited. While the stadium has boasted some ridiculous attendance numbers since its last expansion, the reality is bleachers are just not that comfortable for anyone. You don’t get enough room on either side of you, you have knees in your back/your knees in the backs of those in front of you, not to mention the seats are either freezing or scorching.
Don’t be surprised to see the stadium reduce its capacity and put in actual seats, though I wouldn’t hate it if there could still somehow be over 100,000 people at full capacity.
Enhanced security and gate access
This has slowly been improving, but I still hear too many stories about people waiting in line to get through the gates, missing kickoffs, etc. Sure, those people should likely have left the tailgate lots earlier, but it also shouldn’t take 30+ minutes to get through security. With other technological enhancements at the stadium, streamlining and expediting security would be keen.
All of this is still years into the future, and will require Board of Trustees approval. But it’s nice to see that the renovations are still at the forefront of the University’s collective mind, and with the advent of the 12-team playoff, it sure would be nice to show off the improvements to Penn State’s crown jewel.