Onward Debate: Paterno Field At Beaver Stadium A Deserving Tribute
It’s a no-brainer. When you think of college football, you think of Joe Paterno. When you think of Penn State, you think of Joe Paterno. And most importantly — for the sake of this argument — when you think of Beaver Stadium, you think of Joe Paterno. “The House That Joe Built,” as it has been affectionately christened. The venue at which a young Brooklyn boy fresh out of the Ivy Leagues started his career, and the venue at which a State College legend ended his career.
The movement urging the university to pay tribute to the late coach by naming his second home “Paterno Field at Beaver Stadium” began in 2009, and it’s gained traction following his death as it was revamped by Penn State activist Blake Tobias. There’s clearly wide support for the renaming, as Tobias’ Change.org petition has already garnered over 57,000 signatures of the 107,282 (Beaver Stadium’s capacity) he hopes to gain before submitting the idea to the Board of Trustees.
Some may argue that the stadium is already named in tribute of a great Penn State figure, former Penn State President and Trustee James Beaver, who also served as Governor of Pennsylvania for a time. You might also recognize that namesake from one of the two main streets in downtown State College. But a descendant of Beaver has said that their family fully supports naming the field after Paterno.
Others may argue that Paterno already has a library named after him, but that was thanks to a donation he made for construction of the wing. In my opinion, the coach contributed enough to Penn State during his lifetime to deserve a tribute in his honor that isn’t prompted by money, but by his everlasting effect on Happy Valley. What better place to give him that tribute than to renamethe stadium where he built his legacy?
Even the Board of Trustees has admitted that Paterno is deserving of recognition at some point, and they’re even taking suggestions for potential ways to give him that honor. They plan on holding off on finalizing anything until the investigation by Judge Freeh is completed, and that’s both a fair and sensible decision.
It also makes sense to wait on any official tribute to Paterno due to the circumstances in which his relationship with the university was terminated just months before he passed away. It would look insensitive if the very same group of people that condemned the man for his lack of “leadership” in a statement this week then turned around and named the field after him, but in time it will become necessary to honor Joe Paterno in one way or another.
I don’t think that anyone — Penn State alumni or student, Joe Paterno fan or friend — would deny that the coach has changed the face of this university for the better. His legacy will live on in this town as long as it’s in existence, felt from the bustling streets of downtown State College to the iconic buildings of the University Park campus. The way I see it, there’s no better way to make that legacy tangible than naming the field that Paterno spent so much time pacing back and forth on, pant legs rolled up, after the legend himself.
Read the other side of this Onward Debate right here.