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Penn State Football: Since 2012 More Than Half of Beaver Stadium Season Ticket Holders Have Changed

by on July 29, 2019 1:50 PM

Things change, and that includes the crowd at Beaver Stadium.

In fact since 2012, more than half of the stadium’s official capacity of nearly 107,000 has turned over into new hands.

Penn State declined to comment or provide data assistance for this story, but press releases tell the tale of a changing Beaver Stadium landscape in the years following the controversial STEP seat licensing program. STEP was announced in 2009 and went into effect in 2011.

For example, a late July 2019 press release states that “nearly 4,600 new season tickets have been sold” for the Nittany Lions' upcoming season. The release doesn’t indicate if this number is full season sales or also includes partial plans. It could also include former ticket holders returning or current ticket holders adding to their allotment. There are a handful of unknown variables at play.

Regardless, the picture of a changing Beaver Stadium crowd continues following a trip through the athletic department news archives. Looking up late August press releases prior to the upcoming season, the following numbers — while inexact — showcase the value of winning and a resurgence in the stands as much as on the field.

New Season Tickets Sold:

  • 2019: Nearly 4,600
  • 2018: More than 6,300
  • 2017: More than 9,000
  • 2016: More than 5,500
  • 2015: More than 4,800
  • 2014: Nearly 6,000
  • 2013: Nearly 4,100
  • 2012: More than 3,400
  • In total: 43,700 new season tickets

This figure doesn’t include a student section of just over 21,000 that rolls through an entirely new set of young fans every four or five years. Overall that’s roughly 64,700 new season ticket holders of any variety, turning the annual routine of new fans buying season tickets into a larger portrait of how Beaver Stadium’s weekend population has steadily changed.

Of note, renewal rates, while not reported as frequently as sales, have generally been in the low to mid 90-percents.

All of this has turned into money. During the 2018 fiscal year Penn State reported just over $34 million in football ticket sales revenue alone, proof of the obvious: winning sells, and with Beaver Stadium setting a new single-game attendance record each of the past two years, the program seems long removed from the half-empty Thanksgiving weekend crowds and early season apathy as the Nittany Lions take on the cupcakes of the schedule.

For many fans the STEP program’s implementation represents the end of an era when it was relatively cheap and simple to get into Beaver Stadium to watch a game. As the money around the sport continues to rise, so too will the prices to enter the game — perhaps the eventual downfall of big money ticket revenues in college football as more fans opt for the TV and a couch instead of hundreds on tickets and lodging.

In a more philosophical sense it also means the steady change in what Beaver Stadium connects with, more and more fans having never seen a game with Joe Paterno on the sidelines, more and more students and alumni who have no connection to a man that once worked as a generational unifier.

If James Franklin will ever carry that mantle remains to be seen, but closing in on a decade since Paterno’s final home game the former head coach’s grip on the emotional center of the football program is not what it once was.

Whatever the case might be, Penn State fans have proven they will be there rain or shine, but like everyone else, winning teams make the wallet far easier to open.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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