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Beaver Stadium: A Visual History Through The Years

Iconic Beaver Stadium is home to our beloved Penn State football team, 107,000 of our closest friends, and the best student section in the country. Though it stands as one of the pinnacle stadiums in all of college football, it didn’t get that way overnight. From its grass roots beginnings, which featured the team playing on Old Main lawn, to the second largest football stadium in the nation, Beaver Stadium has undergone quite the transformation. We’re here to take you through on a visual journey, and help you experience the transformation from past to present.

Penn State football playing on Old Beaver Field
Penn State football playing on Old Beaver Field (Image: Penn State archives)

After moving from Old Main lawn in 1893, the Penn State football team found itself a perfect location for a stadium: directly between present-day Osmond and Frear Laboratories. It was this venue in which James A. Beaver’s name grew its famous legend. Beaver Field, as it was called, seated 500 spectators, and was christened with a 32-0 victory over what we now unfortunately know as Pitt.

Located northeast of Rec Hall, New Beaver Field seated 30,000
Located northeast of Rec Hall, New Beaver Field seated 30,000 (Image: Kevin McGuire)

In 1909, the team needed a greater seating capacity and larger grand stands, so it decided to uproot itself from its previous location, and move to a section of campus northeast of Rec Hall. The new site, known as New Beaver Field, seated 30,000 fans, was built solely out of wood, and was reinforced with steel 27 years later. While it primarily housed the football team, it also contained a track, baseball field, and lacrosse and soccer field. New Beaver Field was broken in with a 31-0 win over Grove City.

Beaver Stadium from 1960, in its permanent location
Beaver Stadium from 1960, in its permanent location (Image: nittanyanthology.com)

Following the 1959 season, the team’s staggering popularity and growing crowds forced the Nittany Lions to move to an even larger venue —  one we now know as Beaver Stadium. New Beaver Field was deconstructed, and split apart into 700 sections, moving across campus to its current location. With the addition of 16,000 more seats, Penn State football now had a permanent home.

In 1991, an upper deck was dded to the North end zone increasing capacity to 93,967
In 1991, an upper deck was dded to the North end zone increasing capacity to 93,967 (Image: nittanyanthology.com)

In the years leading up to 1991, Beaver Stadium underwent a number of renovations, which significantly expanded the venue’s seating capacity to fit a larger contingent of Penn State faithfuls. From 1969 through 1980, the stadium expanded to 83,770, followed by the addition of lights in 1984. in 1985, the ramps added to each corner of the stadium slightly reduced the seating capacity by 400. However, in 1991, the stadium added an enormous upper deck to the north end zone, bringing an additional 10,033 seats. Along the way, Penn State football won two national championships, completed four undefeated seasons, and won 16 bowl games.

Present day Beaver Stadium
Present day Beaver Stadium (Image: Will Amesbury)

Prior to the 2001 season, Beaver Stadium saw its next substantial renovation. The addition of an 11,500-seat upper deck in the south end zone, along with a three-story structure containing 60 enclosed skyboxes above the East stands, increased the stadium’s overall capacity to 106,562. Beaver Stadium’s current dimensions are 110 rows on the east side, 100 rows on the west side, 60 in each of the lower end zones, 35 in the north upper deck, and 25 in the south upper deck.

Beaver Stadium is a magnificent beauty, a temple of sorts to the game we all know and love. Through the years, the stadium has seen its fair share of renovation, standing still as history moved forward. It’s housed generations of Penn State fans, and will house generations more down the road. Beaver Stadium, in all its simplicity and elegance, truly is a wonder.

About the Author

Aaron Sulpizio

Aaron Sulpizio is a Sophomore at Penn State studying Supply Chain and Information Systems. Aaron is from West Chester, Pennsylvania and loves Philadelphia sports. Aaron is also a proud photographer and writer at Onward State. Email Aaron at [email protected]

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