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Latest Fan Survey Recirculates Possibility Of New Penn State Football Stadium

Is it time for Penn State to build a new football stadium? Fans’ responses to a new survey released this week might just influence such a decision.

Select Penn State football fans received an email on Monday linking them to a detailed questionnaire seeking input on the current state of Beaver Stadium and possible plans for the future. Fans were asked to state their interest in a handful of new developments, including potential in-stadium alcohol sales or somehow fancier box seating. One notable question hopes to gauge fans’ interest in the construction of an entirely new stadium, all on the condition that a brand-new venue would provide a better fan experience than a renovated Beaver Stadium if the costs were close.

The survey question seeking input on potential plans for a new football stadium

While announcing the survey, Penn State declined to take stances on proposed renovations, instead noting that “all options” are being considered and fan feedback would drive evaluations.

Extensive renovations to Beaver Stadium (or the prospect of a new stadium entirely) have been kicked around for years, even dating back to the infancy of Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour’s tenure in 2015.

“Nobody’s trying to either renovate Beaver or build a new stadium just to be doing it,” Barbour told the Associated Press in 2015. “There’s a recognized need. I’ve not run into anybody that doesn’t recognize that need.”

Two years later in 2017, Penn State released its Facilities Master Plan — an eclectic 20-year project that charted out lofty goals for renovations to its athletics facilities. On paper, the campaign addressed 23 on-campus athletic venues that would support Penn State’s 31 programs, including a new multi-sport practice facility.

Projects within the Facilities Master Plan have largely stalled since 2017, perhaps in part due to COVID-19’s impact on Penn State’s financials and the world at large. Panzer Stadium, Penn State lacrosse’s new home that was funded independently from the plan, was completed in 2018. The university is currently completing a $48.3 million renovations project for its Lasch Football Building, which was included in the master plan.

The most controversial component of the Facilities Master Plan was a widespread renovation for Beaver Stadium. Plans suggested increasing chairback seating, installing new concessions stands and food options, widening the concourses, and more, all of which would require Penn State to slightly reduce Beaver Stadium’s capacity. Additionally, the Facilities Master Plan called for the construction of a new parking structure west of Beaver Stadium.

Beaver Stadium’s renovations, charted out in 2017 and pictured in renderings above, were slated to get underway after Penn State completed five “priority” projects across the first five years: the Center of Excellence student-athlete hub, a new indoor practice facility, a new 10-lane, 50-meter natatorium, a new tennis facility, and renovations to Jeffrey Field. None of these projects, at least in the conditions presented by the Facilities Master Plan, have been completed. The five-year timeline was understandably altered to account for the COVID-19 pandemic, but nearly five years after its unveiling, the Facilities Master Plan has yet to truly come to fruition.

So, as Penn State seemingly works with an out-of-date timeline, Beaver Stadium’s renovations seem up in the air. Penn State Athletics plans to use fan feedback to chart the course moving forward, but it seems clear that 2017’s proposed renovations are no longer set in stone. If fan feedback is overwhelming enough, we might be more concerned with an entirely new football stadium in a few years’ time.

The final piece of this puzzle, of course, would cover the financials. Penn State presented this scenario for a new stadium on the condition that a brand-new venue’s cost would be “similar” to the funds needed to complete renovations. So, how much could Beaver Stadium’s future cost? For now, that’s unclear.

Beaver Stadium’s most recent overhaul at the turn of the 21st century checked in north of $90 million. Some more recent projects, including renovations to Texas A&M’s Kyle Field or Notre Dame’s Notre Dame Stadium, respectively ran their schools $450 million and $400 million. Meanwhile, recent touchups for Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium required just $40 million. Either way, until Penn State figures out which direction it wants to take Beaver Stadium in, the exact cost of the venue’s future will likely remain hazy.

Complicated and potentially outdated master plans notwithstanding, the prospect of a new Penn State football stadium is fascinating. Construction would require a huge chunk of funds, and finding a location would surely be tough, too. On that note, if a new stadium literally took Beaver Stadium’s place, where would the Nittany Lions play? Would they split time between Heinz Field and Lincoln Financial Field to appease their Pennsylvania pundits? Perhaps return to Old Main Lawn to reminisce on the team’s roots? Who knows.

Most fans could agree that Beaver Stadium is no longer a leading competitor regarding stadium innovation or even the overarching fan experience. Still, would the Nittany Lions faithful even want to do away with Beaver Stadium in the first place? Check your emails to take the survey and help influence Penn State football’s future.

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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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