CHICAGO – Beaver Stadium's seating capacity likely will get smaller in the future, but that could come with a benefit for Penn State football fans: bigger seats.
Sandy Barbour, Penn State's athletic director, said Tuesday that Beaver Stadium's seats could get wider, and offer more leg room, as part of a planned renovation. Populous, a Kansas City-based design firm, is nearing completion of a master plan of Penn State's athletic facilities, including Beaver Stadium. The plan is scheduled to be announced this fall.
Penn State officials have said they favor renovating the 56-year-old stadium, the nation's second-largest with a capacity of 106,572, rather than building a new one. The sweeping project is expected to address seating, rest rooms, concessions and ease of entry and exit.
Barbour said that, in surveys, fans rated seating comfort, particularly width and leg room, as "pretty high" on their list of requested renovations. Widening seats would require a capacity reduction, Barbour said, though Beaver Stadium likely will retain at least 100,000 seats.
Beaver Stadium is one of just eight in the country with a seating capacity above 100,000.
"We've got a lot of folks who want to see Penn State games, so I don't think we have a whole lot of leeway in terms of making it smaller from a capacity standpoint," Barbour said. "But if we're going to make seats wider, and we're going to give people more leg room, we're going to be smaller."
Ohio State recently announced that it will reduce Ohio Stadium's seating capacity by about 2,600 seats. Barbour called that the direction of college football, echoing Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith's comment that the "capacity race is over."
"This is about value," she said. "This is about our customers and what they want, their comfort and their gameday experience."