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Sandy Barbour Clarifies ‘No Fans’ Expected In Stands Under Current Guidelines

Fans and spectators won’t be allowed to attend Penn State sporting events this fall as long as current federal and state guidelines remain in place, Associate Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour said Thursday.

Barbour clarified that “no fans” would be permitted to Beaver Stadium, Jeffrey Field, or any other venue this fall while Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s 250-person outdoor event capacity cap remains in place. Indoor gatherings are currently capped at 25 people.

Pennsylvania’s 250-person capacity cap does, however, apply to players, coaches, and staff members, which would leave little room to bring fans into the stadium.

Earlier Thursday, Barbour’s letter to season ticket holders vaguely stated fans in “general seating areas” wouldn’t be allowed. Now, Penn State has clearly outlined fans won’t be in attendance unless guidelines are modified and the coronavirus pandemic improves.

“Despite the current state orders, we continue to refine our plans to welcome Nittany Lion fans, should the conditions and orders be revised to accommodate spectators at events,” Barbour wrote to season ticket holders. “These plans will have the safety and wellbeing of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, fans and community at the forefront. Let me be clear; we will only enact these plans should the orders currently in place by the Governor and the PA Department of Health accommodate such activity based on conditions and public health advice.”

However, Barbour noted box seating could be viewed as a separate entity, but “work remains to be done” sorting out the details there.

She added Penn State is working to make sure parents could watch their kids play but didn’t confirm any plans to bring them to athletic events. More than 1,000 Big Ten football players requested complimentary access to Big Ten Network+ for family and friends when they published a list of demands for the conference and NCAA Wednesday.

Without fans in attendance, Barbour estimated Penn State Athletics’ anticipated revenue loss sits “in the high eight figures” and could reach as high as nine figures should sports fall through entirely. To address these shortfalls, Penn State has implemented department-wide pay cuts and emphasized traveling less, among other efforts. Barbour herself said she’s taken a 15% pay cut.

During Thursday’s call, Penn State Athletics provided insight into what its return to Beaver Stadium would look like if it potentially occurred. The stadium’s reduced capacity would sit at 23,275 fans, who would sit in designated “pods” spaced out across the venue. Food would be prepackaged, temporary seating would be removed, and numerous public health protocols would be implemented, including wearing face masks and enforcing social distancing.

Barbour added Athletics is working to potentially prioritize bringing students into a reduced-capacity Beaver Stadium, but nothing is official.

She continuously reiterated these plans to open Beaver Stadium would only be able to happen if conditions improve and guidelines are loosened across the state. More details surrounding this scenario should be released later Thursday.

Athletics also provided information for season ticket holders to address their likely obsolete tickets. They’ll be able to donate their tickets (tax-deductible!), roll them over to 2021, or request a full refund. Through refunding, though, they would maintain their renewal status but won’t be guaranteed their 2020 seat locations and parking in 2021.

The Big Ten released its updated 2020 football schedules Wednesday. Penn State’s season is slated to begin on Saturday, September 5 with a home matchup against Northwestern.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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