Penn State athletics 'hopeful' for full Beaver Stadium capacity for 2021 football season
Penn State has begun work on its attendance plan for the 2021 football season amid the coronavirus pandemic, and that could potentially include a full stadium and an important ticketing change.
Athletic director Sandy Barbour laid out the status of the plan in an email to season ticket holders on Wednesday.
According to the email, which was obtained by the Centre Daily Times, Penn State is planning for various attendance scenarios, including those that would account for 3-foot and 6-foot social distancing requirements. The latter of those scenarios would limit capacity to fewer than 20,000 fans, even with current Pennsylvania restrictions allowing for 50% capacity.
"In the coming weeks, we will outline our ticketing plans based on a variety of scenarios, including our efforts to have a full stadium, as well as limited capacity options with 6-foot social distancing and 3-foot social distancing," the email states. "As of April 28, the current state guidance is 50% capacity with six-foot physical distancing. While simple math would tell you that we could fit approximately 53,500 fans at 50% capacity, the reality is with 6-foot social distancing, we are only able to accommodate less than 20,000 fans.
"To date, we have worked with Populous and Ticketmaster to develop a potential pod seating system to achieve maximum attendance within the physical distancing requirements."
The pod diagrams included in the email limited seating to groups of six or less.
While those plans are being worked on, Barbour wrote that Penn State remains "hopeful" that Beaver Stadium can be at full capacity for the 2021 season. With the Big Ten's decision not to make any regulations regarding crowd size this fall, that possibility will depend on state and local guidelines.
While the plan for attendance numbers may vary, there is one major change that will take place regardless of how many people are allowed in Beaver Stadium. The email noted that all ticketing will be mobile beginning with the upcoming 2021 season. The athletic department will provide "a variety of resources regarding mobile ticketing this summer" in order to alleviate any obstacles in the transition.
The university began its transition to mobile ticketing in the 2019 season, by making all student tickets digital. That roll-out was an "overall success," according to the email.
Penn State's first home game of the 2021 season is scheduled for Sept. 11, when the Nittany Lions will take on Ball State.
"We are hopeful to have full capacity for the 2021 season and know Nittany Nation is excited to return to make Beaver Stadium a true home field advantage and provide a one-of-a-kind experience to all involved in game day," Barbour wrote. "To be able to do that, we need everyone to continue to do their part to stop the spread of the virus by following the guidelines, wearing masks and social distancing."