Penn State Should Hold More Concerts At Beaver Stadium

Who doesn’t love a stadium concert?

Last weekend, Luke Combs brought his “Growin’ Up and Gettin’ Old” tour to Happy Valley for an electrifying concert in Beaver Stadium. The show was Combs’ largest ever with a crowd of over 80,000 filling the stands for the show.

Photo Courtesy of Luke Combs | Instagram

This was only the second time ever a concert was held in Beaver Stadium — the first a performance from country artist Blake Shelton in 2017. This begs the question, “Why doesn’t Beaver Stadium, the second-largest stadium in North America, hold more concerts?”

Beaver Stadium makes for an awesome concert venue. Based on my interactions and conversations with those who attended the concert the other night, everyone seemed to love it.

Large crowds make for high-energy shows. There’s a reason huge festivals like Coachella have such great reputations despite notoriety for having a miserable guest experience. Beaver Stadium’s bench seating system allows for more fans to get crammed into a smaller space. For the same reason football games get so loud, concerts do the same.

The area is also already primed for tailgating thanks to the setup for football, so it’s an easy adjustment for the university and the town to prepare for an influx of people. Traffic can be an issue, which it was for Saturday’s show, but traffic is an issue for football games, too.

There are issues with any venue, but I think almost everyone who attended the concert last week would agree that Beaver Stadium should hold more concerts.

There are several logistical reasons why concerts don’t work at Beaver Stadium depending on the time of year. In the fall, there’s football. While many NFL stadiums switch back and forth from sports to entertainment during the season, it’s understandable why Penn State would want to keep the field in good condition during the season.

In the winter, it’s too cold. One of the downsides to outdoor venues is the variability of the weather. Whether it’s rain, snow, or extreme temperatures, the weather can have a great effect on the quality and attendance of a concert. This pretty much rules out the winter months when it’s freezing in Happy Valley.

That leaves two seasons: spring and summer. Spring weather in Happy Valley can still be a bit hit or miss, but fans are often willing to overcome the elements as long as they’re not too extreme. Saturday’s concert was a great example of that. At the show, it was cold and even raining for a bit, but fans stuck it out.

Summer’s weather is the most ideal, but the biggest issue with the summer is the sharp decrease in State College’s population. Students move home, removing 40,000 of the town’s residents and decreasing the chances of filling a large venue like Beaver Stadium.

Based on all of this, it seems like maybe Beaver Stadium isn’t right for concerts. Maybe it just isn’t meant to be. However, I don’t think so.

Despite all these concerns, there should be more concerts at Beaver Stadium. At the absolute minimum, there should be one concert a year.

There’s an ideal window for a show at the end of April and the beginning of May right before finals. Combs perfectly identified this window when the weather is (supposed to be) good, but students are all still in town before vacation.

Next year, Penn State is adjusting its academic calendar and consequently pushing back final exams by one week. This means starting next year, the last weekend of the year will be the first weekend in May, rather than the last weekend in April.

This leaves three solid weekend options at the end of the semester that could potentially become host to a concert at Beaver Stadium. And these are just the ideal options.

There’s a case to be made that with the right artist, a summer concert at Beaver Stadium would bring people back to State College. The main factor is the popularity of the artist. Someone as popular as Taylor Swift could sell out Beaver Stadium in the heat of summer or the chill of winter.

There’s a limited number of artists who sell 80,000+ tickets to a concert during summer vacation, but it isn’t out of the question. People travel for concerts all the time, and if students already have active leases that give them a place to stay, why wouldn’t they come back up for a weekend show?

The dream scenario is probably to do another huge concert on the weekend of Arts Fest, a weekend that traditionally pulls a large number of students back to State College anyway. If a concert is planned for a weekend that isn’t Arts Fest, State College could strategically plan around the date to make it an event with activities downtown throughout the weekend.

Despite my optimism, I don’t think there’s a way around the fall and winter concerns. Fall doesn’t work with football, and winter is simply too cold unless they ever decide to put a dome on Beaver Stadium. Maybe some of the upcoming weatherproofing renovations will make March concerts a bit more feasible, though.

That still leaves five months of the year that are perfect for concerts at Beaver Stadium. Sure, there’s logistical work involved in planning and staffing these concerts, but Beaver Stadium and State College as a whole are already used to accommodating large numbers of people.

The artists get the benefit of selling lots of tickets and breaking their own attendance records, just like Combs. The university and town get the added revenue from the concert itself and the influx of tourists coming to town for the show. The students and residents of State College get access to world-class artists performing only a mile or two from their door. Seems like a win-win-win to me.

It may not work to host multiple huge artists every year like an NFL stadium, but I also don’t think we should have to wait another seven years to see the next Beaver Stadium concert.

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About the Author

Mikey DeAngelis

Mikey DeAngelis is a junior majoring in film production who is also serving as one of Onward State's visual editors. During his free time, he enjoys making content for his YouTube channel. Mikey loves Philly sports, traveling and hiking in National Parks, and watching movies. To reach Mikey, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@mikey_deangelis) or by email ([email protected]).

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