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PSU answers Beaver Stadium questions

AUDREY SNYDER
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

BOALSBURG — Penn State is expected to have the results of their facility master plan by July and the university’s decision makers will need to prioritize which of Penn State’s athletic venues will need to be upgraded or potentially rebuilt.

The plan to renovate Penn State's Beaver Stadium could cost more than $485 million.

From the men’s and women’s soccer teams with their locker rooms on one end of the campus and their playing facility on the other, to the outdated McCoy Natatorium and an aging tennis facility, Penn State could have many needs to address.

While every athletic facility on campus is being evaluated by the Kansas City based architecture firm Populous, figuring out how to improve Beaver Stadium continues to be one of the most pressing questions. Athletic director Sandy Barbour and Phil Esten, Penn State’s chief operating officer and deputy athletic director, prefer a renovation as opposed to an entire rebuild of the 107,000-seat stadium.

“We truly want to renovate Beaver Stadium,” Esten said Thursday after a luncheon and question-and-answer session with members of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County. “At the end of the day, when you take a look at what we want to accomplish in the stadium, we think that a renovation can get us there.”

Adding improved amenities like updated bathrooms, hot water, more concessions and better wifi are being discussed, Esten said. Brainstorming ways to improve the game-day experience, from the potential for improved tailgating options to looking at ways to better the 20-year-old Bryce Jordan Center across the parking lot, are on the table.

Finding ways to use Beaver Stadium beyond a handful of times per year could be part of the revenue stream that Penn State will need to help support these projects once the results of the 10-month evaluation are known this summer.

“When you look at a winter event [in Beaver Stadium] the restrooms aren’t winterized, the concessions aren’t winterized, so running water is an issue when it comes to that, heat in the concession stands and restrooms is an issue,” Esten said. “If we look to host say a soccer game in the stadium we need to make sure the field can actually accommodate the FIFA certifications for that. There are a lot of things you have to look at. It’s not just as easy as saying we’ll do it and if you open it they will come.”

Penn State athletic events don’t sell alcohol, but that is also open for discussion. At the Bryce Jordan Center, where the men’s and women’s basketball teams play, alcohol was sold last spring at a Garth Brooks concert and Esten classified the alcohol trial as a success.

“If it makes sense it’s something that I could see us progressing with,” he said, adding that the university and the students are the priority. “But, if it doesn’t make sense, that’s fine,. and we’ll find a way to make work whatever hand we’re dealt.”