Saturday, June 22, 2024
Home » News » Penn State Sports » Penn State Football: Beaver Stadium Renovation FAQ

Penn State Football: Beaver Stadium Renovation FAQ

As of Tuesday, Penn State is moving full steam ahead with $700 million Beaver Stadium renovation slated to be completed in August of 2027. There are plenty of unknowns still so early in the project’s opening phases but there are some worthwhile answers to collect in one place. More questions – and their answers – will pop up in the coming weeks, months and years, but for now, here is what we know.

What’s the short version?: The brunt of the ongoing renovation project is focused on the west side of the stadium [for reference that is the side of the stadium which includes the press box and the visiting team sideline]. Generally speaking the plan is to effectively rebuild that side of the stadium to include premium seating in the form of suites, lodges and club seats. The current press box will be torn down and a super structure – a somewhat broadly defined idea so far – will be put in its place to house the majority of these changes. Penn State hasn’t released any renderings of what the inside of the stadium is going to look like when it’s all said and done, so you’ll have to use your imagination in the meanwhile. The project also includes things like an increase in bathrooms, wider concourses, more concessions, better WiFi and other game day related amenities.

“[Some of the work will begin in] 2025 and includes removing the press box and the top half of the left side and building a superstructure in its place to include suites and club seating with temporary bleachers installed during the estimated two seasons during which a structure will be built,” Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Pat Kraft said. “In 2026, the third phase would begin, which will include removing all lower bowl seating [on the west side] and replacing it with club seating. The goal would be to complete all phases by 2027.”

How is this getting paid for?: Penn State boasts one of the few athletic departments which operates financially independent from the academic side of the university and one of the few that does so with a positive cash flow. While university accounting can sometimes feel like a bit of smoke and mirrors, Penn State is not using any tuition dollars to pay for the renovation. Instead, the funding will come from a combination of debt, annual revenues, philanthropy and corporate partners. Down in the weeds, Penn State is planning for 30 years of debt servicing but isn’t intending on taking that long to pay it off. As another aside, Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved the project to not exceed $700 million, but the current plan rounds out to about $40 million less than that according to officials. If athletics ends up needing more than $700 million, it will have to come back to the board. If that ends up happening is impossible to predict. Texas A&M came in under budget with a similar project, but costs and unexpected expenses are hard to predict.

Why not build a new stadium?: The short version is that it would cost way too much money. Penn State projected a new stadium to cost somewhere in the $2 billion ballpark. Don’t forget, it’s one [still very expensive] thing to build a medium sized stadium anew, it’s something else entirely to build one the size of Beaver Stadium from scratch.

When does it start, when does it finish?: While there are ongoing projects happening at Beaver Stadium right now- mostly geared towards scoreboard upgrades and winterization – the majority of the most noteworthy construction will happen after the 2024 season and is targeted to be finished in August of 2027. The plan, generally, is for construction to take place when the seasons aren’t ongoing, but there’s no question that after 2024, things will be a little wonky on the west side of Beaver Stadium and even some of areas where escalators and elevators are being installed elsewhere.

How many people will be impacted?: According to Kraft the 2025 and 2026 seasons will involve some amount of temporary seating arrangements for fans on the west side of the stadium but there’s no indication at this point whether that’s 5,000 or 15,000 people. Asked about this, Penn State didn’t offer up any more details. There’s a chance that number isn’t finalized just yet. Generally speaking Penn State has said that it wants the impact to be minimal, but it’s hard to imagine that turning out to match reality.

Will ticket prices go up?: Penn State says it doesn’t know yet, but editorially it seems reasonable to assume that – in general – prices will eventually go up again. Whether or not that’s a result of the renovation project or just market changes is to be determined. Part of the thinking as it pertains to the renovation process is that the improvements will generate enough revenue to pay for themselves via improved concessions and expanded premium seating. That being said, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which some of the bill doesn’t get kicked directly down to every fan, either by virtue of parking prices or tickets or other less voluntary aspects of the game day experience. Broadly Penn State’s ticketing has maintained a modest pacing when it comes to increased prices, but one does not spend $700 million without finding quick ways to get some of it back.

Will Beaver Stadium get a name change?: Historically Kraft has indicated that while naming rights are on the table that slapping the word Pepsi next to Beaver Stadium is unlikely. Interestingly enough, Playfly – Penn State’s new multimedia rights holder – recently acquired Premier Partnerships, a firm which specializes in naming rights. There’s no question that renaming Beaver Stadium would come with the biggest chunk of cash, but there are plenty of other things to attach partnerships to. So for now don’t expect that to happen.

How much will capacity go down?: Penn State has not indicated an exact number that Beaver Stadium’s official capacity will change by but Kraft has long said that staying above 100,000 was an important thing to maintain through this process. Beaver Stadium’s official capacity is just over 106,500 but with crowds nearing 111,000 over the years, don’t expect the final number to be all that noticeable when it comes to how Beaver Stadium looks. Don’t forget, they count everyone in the building towards that number, so more concessions, more suites and more room in general won’t hurt the ability to cram a few extra people in.

Other events?: While things are still years from a long awaited outdoor hockey game, don’t be surprised if Beaver Stadium becomes more of a 12-month venue. The welcome center slated to be part of the stadium is clocking in at 21,000 square feet and geared towards being an event space as well. Concerts will still beat up the grass, but they’ll also help pay for the fancy new crib.