Penn State Athletics ‘Assessing’ Venues To Potentially Bring Back Fans

Penn State Athletics appears to finally be on its way to returning Nittany Lions fans to games and competitions.

On Wednesday, the Big Ten revised its conference-wide policies for remaining spring games to let schools bring fans into venues while following local and state health guidelines. Although Penn State hasn’t officially announced plans to fill the bleachers just yet, the department said it’s planning for fans’ return.

“We are appreciative the Big Ten has opened fan attendance to local guidelines,” said Kris Petersen, associate athletics director for strategic communications. “We are hopeful to expand opportunities for our fans to cheer on the Nittany Lions as state, local and University guidance allows.”

Petersen said Penn State Athletics is currently assessing its venues and capacity limits to ensure they can comply with state regulations, including 6-foot social distancing requirements. Fans would also need to face wear masks upon their return to competitions.

Under current Pennsylvania guidelines, outdoor venues can host events at 20% capacity, while indoor venues are capped at 15%. That’ll get bumped up to 50% and 25%, respectively, on April 4, according to Governor Tom Wolf’s latest relaxation on virus mitigation efforts.

Notably, Athletics said it intends on providing student-athletes’ families and friends with the maximum number of tickets allowed under NCAA regulations. Penn State said it would post additional info on its website should more general public tickets be available.

Other Big Ten schools, including Nebraska, for example, said they’ll give priority to season ticket-holders. It’s unclear exactly how many tickets would be up for grabs if Penn State were to bring back fans.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that under Pennsylvania policy, stricter local restrictions take precedence. State College’s ordinance that enforces mask-wearing and prohibits large gatherings currently remains in effect through the end of May. Penn State started enforcing the ordinance on applicable parts of campus (read: the chunks that aren’t in College Township) last fall and would likely need to reevaluate its own guidelines, too, before bringing fans back entirely.

All semester long, Penn State Athletics has shown signs it’s willing to bring fans back to Happy Valley. For example, the Class of 2024 will head to Beaver Stadium in April to watch the Nittany Lions’ final spring practice. Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour reiterated she and her staff are “pushing really hard” to fill stadiums next fall.

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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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