Penn State Football Jumps to No. 2 in NCAA Home Attendance in 2018; Ohio State Down 5,548
December 06, 2018 8:30 PM
by Mike Poorman
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Penn State ranked second among all college football programs in home attendance for 2018, with an average of 105,485 fans — its highest showing since 2009.

That’s a jump up in the official NCAA college football rankings for Penn State, after being No. 3 in 2017 — even though the average Beaver Stadium crowd dropped by over 1,000 fans this past season.

Numbers are for ticket sales, not actual attendance.

Michigan ranked first in 2018, averaging 110,737 fans, according to the NCAA. The Wolverines drew 111,747 fans for their 42-7 win over Penn State in The Big House on Nov. 3.

Ohio State fell to third in 2018, with an average attendance of 101,947. That’s a significant drop-off of 5,548 fans per game in The Horseshoe vs. 2017, when the Buckeyes averaged 107,495. Michigan’s average attendance in Michigan Stadium dropped 852 per home game from 2017 to 2018.

The Buckeyes were No. 3 in home attendance in 2018 after being ranked second in 2017. Alabama (101,562), LSU (100,819), Texas A&M (99,844), Tennessee (92,894), Georgia (92,746), Nebraska (89,034) and Oklahoma (86,735) rounded out the Top 10 for home attendance in 2018.

The Nittany Lions averaged 105,485 fans for their seven home games in Beaver Stadium in 2018, despite harsh weather conditions for three contests — Iowa, Wisconsin and Maryland. Six of Penn State’s home games in 2018 had ticket sales over 105,000. 

Penn State’s Whiteout game against Ohio State on Sept. 29 drew 110,889 fans, a Beaver Stadium record. That broke the stadium record of 110,823, set in a 42-13 win over Michigan in a Whiteout game in Oct. 21, 2017. 

Penn State’s average Beaver Stadium attendance in 2018 fell by 1,222 fans per game compared to 2017, when the Nittany Lions averaged 106,707 fans per game.

Of course, here’s another way to look at it:

Penn State’s average Beaver Stadium crowd was only 2,049 less than the combined average home attendance of Rutgers, Illinois and Maryland, who ranked Nos. 12-14 in Big Ten Conference home attendance.

The Big Ten had six teams in the national Top 25 for home attendance in 2018, including: Wisconsin, 15th (77,153); Michigan State, 18th (72,584); and Iowa, 21st (68,043).

Rankings for the other Big Ten programs for home games in 2018: Purdue, 38th (51,120); Northwestern, 46th (43,873); Indiana, 53rd (40,965); Minnesota, 56th (37,915); Rutgers, 58th (37,799); Illinois, 61st (36,151); and Maryland, 63rd (33,594).

Under James Franklin, Penn State’s average home attendance in Beaver Stadium has been 101,623 (2014), 99,799 (2015), 100,257 (2016) and 106,707 (2017). Since 2016, the Nittany Lions’ record in Beaver Stadium has been a stellar 19-2, which included a 16-game winning streak that ended with that September loss to the Buckeyes.

Penn State last ranked No. 2 nationally in average home attendance in 2009, when the Nittany Lions under Joe Paterno averaged 107,008 per contest in Beaver Stadium. Penn State has twice averaged more than 108,000 fans at home in a season — a record 108,917 in 2007 and 108,254 in 2008.


Last week, Penn State announced its second increase in football season ticket prices in as many years. For 2019, Penn State will increase the cost of season tickets $2 per game ($14 overall). 

Prior to the 2018 season, Penn State raised the cost of season tickets $5 per game ($35 overall). That was the first ticket-price increase since 2009.

Penn State’s total home attendance in 2018 was 738,396. 

Franklin’s base salary will jump $850,000 next season, from $4.5 million in 2018 to $5.35 million in 2019. So, if the price of every football ticket for every seat in Beaver Stadium in 2019 is increased by $2, and overall attendance remains the stay, it would represent additional gross revenues of $1,476,792.

Thus, theoretically, $1.15 out of every $2 ticket-price increase would go to pay for that raise.

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