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Penn State Football: Ticket Sales Visualized And The Biggest Question Still Remains

by on August 25, 2015 6:00 AM

Ever since Penn State began its seat licensing program a few years ago the question has always been the same.

Will Beaver Stadium ever be full again on a regular basis?

And really nobody knows the answer. It's a question that is asked across the country, modified only for the stadium it is directed towards. As the cost of attending a game increases so too does the quality and comfort of your home theater.

In Penn State's defense, Beaver Stadium has gone through the sanction era still in the Top 5 of national attendance averages. Figures might be down from the glory days of $50 tickets and 100,000+ fans every week, but 96k for a bunch of games that didn't equate to much is still an impressive feat. That's a problem all but four programs would take.

Warm feelings don't do much to fill empty seats though, and as college programs pour money into making going to the game worth your while there is only so much they can do. You'll either show up or you won't. The weather will be bad, you won't care for the opponent or maybe it just wasn't worth the effort.

To be sure, big games are marketable, but they're a risk. Five home contests against Alabama may make for something exciting, but there is a fine line between playing fun games and losing all the time for the sake of a marquee opponent. Scheduling for attendance alone is a slippery slope that turns right around into scheduling for easy wins. In the end, winning is the name of the game.

That's what will make this year an interesting test for the program. A road game at Temple and then five straight at home against fairly lackluster opponents outside a night contest against Rutgers.

A 6-0 start is a real possibility, but the Nittany Lions could get there in so many different ways. A 6-0 team that looks improved over last year's squad might turn a few heads. A 6-0 record coming simply by the virtue of Penn State being just a bit better than its opponents could turn the record into a crumbling facade. Coming back from Ohio State at 6-1 might sound good on paper, but it may not make you buy a ticket to see Penn State play Illinois. Even more so if Penn State is only "just a bit" better. Not all wins are pretty to watch. Especially for a few hundred bucks.

And looking at ticket sales online suggests such tentative demand. With renewal rates in the mid 90% and over 4,700 new season ticket holders on the books things are trending up, but they aren't there just yet.

A look below illustrates that, each a map of Beaver Stadium and remaining tickets (blue) and tickets sold by fans through Ticketmaster (red). For each game there are familiar pockets of empty space seen over the course of the past few years. Many will be scooped up the week of the game. Others will remain empty. And of course, this map doesn't include tickets for sale on other secondary markets.

How many stay empty will say a lot about how Penn State's season is really going, and how much going to a Penn State game is still worth the money in 2015.

Photo Gallery - Ticket Sales Visualized

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