Penn State Athletics just released the long-awaited Facilities Master Plan, which covers 20 years of renovations and construction — most notably controversial upgrades that will reduce the seating capacity of Beaver Stadium. The 2018-2019 academic year is the first official year of the plan, and Penn State has a number of of priorities lined up for the first five years.
Beaver Stadium Renovations
As Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour mentioned last summer, substantial renovations to Beaver Stadium will include reducing the seating capacity, although capacity will remain at least 100,000. In just a few years, we may no longer be #107kStrong, but it could be a fair a trade-off for luxuries like backs on the general seats and new and improved concessions. Penn State says improvements to the tailgating experience around Beaver Stadium also is included in the study, but we don’t have details on that yet.
A stone’s throw from Beaver Stadium, Jeffrey Field has been home to Penn State soccer since 1972. The field itself got a facelift in 2003 with a new surface, a press box, and a video booth. Bleachers were expanded to seat 5,000 at that time, but now Athletics plans to add features like locker facilities, chairback seats, concessions, restrooms, a video board, new media facilities and new lighting. Jeffrey Field’s capacity will be about 4,000.
McCoy Natatorium simply isn’t equipped to host any major swim meets, so Penn State wants to build a whole new natatorium that will include a 10-lane, 50-meter competition pool, a separate lap pool, and a diving well that will allow diving competition from 1, 3, 5, 7.5 and 10-meter boards and platforms. This is a top priority in the Facilities Master Plan, but a potential location isn’t confirmed yet.
One convenient possibility is the current location of McCoy Natatorium, though that would obviously involve major construction to the building. Athletics is also discussing the potential of building near the outdoor track on Porter Road. Call us crazy, but we don’t think a location so far from central campus will do the swimming program any favors in attendance at meets. It’s also hard to imagine students walking so far just to take a leisurely swim, but this could finally explain why the Blue Loop takes such a wide detour down Porter Road.
A new tennis facility will include 10 courts for the men’s and women’s tennis teams, recreation space, and a pro shop. It’ll be just west of the Field Hockey Complex so Penn State can host a wider variety of indoor tennis events than were possible at the current facility.
Center of Excellence
A new ‘Center of Excellence’ for athletes will be built in place of the East Area Locke room and will house resources for student athletes like “performance enhancement, sports performance, and sports science facilities as well as a nutrition center,” according to Athletics. The facility will be located across the street from the Morgan Academic Center and will also include locker rooms for field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and tennis. Parking for 500 cars will be under the building.
An indoor practice facility, similar to Holuba Hall, will also be attached to the Center of Excellence, providing practice space for baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, and soccer. The area will also serve as indoor workout space for all 31 sports at Penn State and could potential host some sports camps or other events.
After the first five years, other construction projects will be completed on a rolling basis. The following facilities will be constructed:
- All-Sports Museum (located at intersection of University Drive and Curtin Road)
- Basketball practice facility
- Cross Country team house
- Golf Clubhouse
- Golf indoor practice facility
- Olympic sport training facility
- Outdoor track and facility
- Parking structure west of Beaver Stadium
The following facilities will be renovated:
- Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park
- Beaver Stadium
- Bryce Jordan Center
- Penn State Field Hockey Complex
- Lasch Football Building
- Multi-Sport Complex
- Penn State Lacrosse Field
- Sarni Tennis Center
If one thing is sure, Barbour has experience in expensive facilities renovations. During her tenure at the University of California, she pushed for $474 million in upgrades. Barbour was criticized for her lack of fiscal responsibility on stadium upgrades at Cal, so it could be an interesting 20 years ahead for Penn State as athletics follows through on the plan. Athletics will release renderings throughout the day, so we’ll update you with more information as those become available.