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Penn State Football: Even as Premium Seating Increases, Kraft Not Worried About Atmosphere at Beaver Stadium

Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Pat Kraft isn’t worried about the increase of premium seating included in renovation plans impacting the atmosphere at Beaver Stadium, he told StateCollege.com recently.

“I would think our fans will be able to be as loud as they’ve ever been, no matter where they’re sitting,” Kraft said. “I think the good thing [about Beaver Stadium] is the volume [of people]. There’s an opportunity for everybody to come to a game and that’s very important.

“I think this [renovation] is going to provide more people with some of the things that are, I can tell you unequivocally, better experience. I believe our fans deserve to have concourses that are wider and the ability to have an upgraded food and beverage product and to not have to be tied in the concourse like they are and having better circulations. I think our fans are the best in the country. I believe in the world. No matter what happens, Beaver Stadium is always going to be electric.”

Overall, the $700 million renovation to Beaver Stadium is, in broad terms, a necessary thing. Penn State says it has more than $100 million worth of backlogged improvements and structural upgrades that are as much about safety as they are anything else. It was only just a few years ago that the pipes in the press box froze prior to a game, and nobody is disputing that the stadium could use some work for the sake of keeping it upright.

All of that being said, there is balance to strike between the sorts of premium experiences — like turning the west side of the stadium into various forms higher end seating — and not losing what has always made Beaver Stadium so great. In Penn State’s defense, there is still a lot of information to release, and like Kraft said, Beaver Stadium is so large that changing one part of it might not impact the overall fabric of the game day experience.

Nevertheless…

 “You can go look at the Golden State Warriors. When I first got there, we were kind of up and coming,” Warriors’ forward Andrew Iguodala once said. “And I always say we priced our real fans out. Now, you look at it, who’s our fanbase? Silicon Valley, the richest community in the world. Sometimes there is a little bit of a disconnect between the in-arena fanbase and the players, because we’ve out-priced a lot of the genuine basketball community.”

The comparison isn’t perfect: the Warriors play in a smaller venue, more games and at their peak were a worldwide phenomenon. Penn State will have to do a lot to match the Warriors’ in those metrics. It’s also not unfair to note that regular old seats in Beaver Stadium have never been a casual purchase. All the same, as Beaver Stadium changes and the number of higher end seats go in, the more people who otherwise would have stayed – but can’t – will go out. College football is a business now more than ever, so Penn State wanting to get more value from ticket holders is neither unexpected or morally reprehensible.

All of that being said, time will tell if Penn State can find a balance between the things that it wants to build, and the atmosphere that has made Beaver Stadium so great.