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May 30, 2024

Board Committee Advances Initial Expenditure for Beaver Stadium Renovation

 

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning today (May 4) approved an expenditure of $70 million to complete the first stage of the Beaver Stadium renovation, which includes priority maintenance projects, winterizing and architectural and design development. The full board will vote on the project tomorrow (May 5).

 

The total project, to be completed in four years, is estimated to cost about $700 million and will be financed and paid for entirely by Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. No tuition dollars or educational budget funds will be used toward the renovations.

 

“After years of studies and careful analysis, I’m happy that these much-needed renovations to Beaver Stadium are about to get underway,” said Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi. “I am committed to continuing to grow our Intercollegiate Athletics program and to keeping Penn State competitive on the national stage. We have one of only a handful of self-sustaining intercollegiate athletics departments in the country, which means that this project can move forward, distinctly, without using the University’s overall budget, tuition dollars, student fees or the critical resources available in support of our educational and research missions.”

 

Bendapudi originally announced the University’s intention to renovate Beaver Stadium at the February Board of Trustees meeting, noting that renovating is far more economical than a new build. At present, Beaver Stadium has a backlog of more than $200 million of deferred maintenance.

 

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I’m thrilled to support the University and Intercollegiate Athletics in this renovation project, which will benefit all of our student-athletes and ultimately grow the role Beaver Stadium plays in supporting the local and state economies — all in a fiscally responsible manner that is completely separate from the University’s academic budget,” said Board Chair Matt Schuyler. “Beaver Stadium is a national icon, and parts of the facility are more than 85 years old. This is the right time and the right approach for needed improvements and modernization.”

 

Penn State Athletics has for decades been an economic powerhouse for the Centre Region and revenue from its football program is the main source of support for all 31 sports — allowing more than 800 student-athletes to compete, gain leadership skills and advance their education. According to a 2022 study commissioned by Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, the annual economic impact in Centre County alone for football visitor spending is estimated at $87 million. Attendee spending for all Penn State athletic events generates $149 million in total economic impact in Centre County. After the renovation, this number is expected to increase substantially.

 

Initial projects 

The first stage of the renovation, expected to be completed over the next 12 months, includes architect and engineer procurement, design and necessary structural maintenance. Initial construction will focus on improving priority safety and security, including crowd traffic control, and addressing field lighting performance. Winterization work also will be completed, which entails the insulation of pipes and other upgrades to allow the building to be occupied when temperatures are below freezing, giving Penn State the ability to host a College Football Playoff game beginning in 2024 and other potential events beyond Penn State football games in the winter months, increasing revenue at Penn State and in the Centre Region.

 

“There are several funding avenues for this transformational project. The additional revenue generated throughout the renovated stadium will not only offset the costs but also enhance our overall athletics budget in the future,” said Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Patrick Kraft. “In addition to stadium-generated revenue, we will embark on a major philanthropic campaign with a goal of raising more than $200 million to support the stadium renovation and other athletic department priorities. Further, we expect to see significant revenue in sponsorships and third-party contracts, all of which enables Penn State Athletics to remain self-sustaining.”

 

Through August 2027 

The preliminary plan for the full project involves a complete reconstruction of the west side of the stadium, which will maintain traditional bowl-style seating while adding anticipated club and loge seats and executive and founder’s suites. Additional anticipated renovations throughout the facility include ongoing code upgrades, accessibility improvements and upgraded fan amenities. These involve improved circulation to ease spectator congestion throughout the stadium, improved restrooms, upgraded concessions, Wi-Fi and cellular upgrades, and additional seating options.

 

“We have the most passionate fans in college football and we are designing the renovation to provide them with an even better experience than the nation-leading game day environment we have now,” said Kraft. “Even with the substantial enhancements and new amenities, we will remain true to the traditions of Penn State Football and Beaver Stadium.”

 

Construction is expected to begin in January 2025 after the conclusion of the 2024 football season.

 

Financing

The initial $70 million expenditure will be funded through a bond sale planned for June. The bonds will be repaid entirely by Intercollegiate Athletics, and the entire project will be paid for through fundraising, concessions, naming opportunities, sponsorships and ticket sales, including new premium seating options to be added during the renovation.

 

“As a self-sustaining department — meaning its generated revenues are equal to or more than its operational costs — Intercollegiate Athletics is fiscally sound and will generate the revenue to pay for this project and more,” said Sara Thorndike, Penn State senior vice president for Finance and Business. “When the renovation is complete, the return on investment will be significant, bringing in additional financial resources to Intercollegiate Athletics.”

 

Beaver Stadium History 

The current Beaver Stadium, a college football icon, has been at the corner of Porter Road and Park Avenue since 1960. Before that, there were two separate locations for “Old” and “New” Beaver Field. By 1909 Penn State had outgrown “Old” Beaver Field, its original 500-seat football arena built in 1893 behind Osmond Laboratory. A “New” Beaver Field was constructed on the site where Kern Building and the Nittany Parking Deck are today. Originally made of wood, it was rebuilt with steel in 1936.

 

After the 1959 season, New Beaver Field was dismantled and in 700 pieces was moved a mile and a half to its current site, where it was reassembled beneath a new superstructure and christened Beaver Stadium, in honor of James A. Beaver, a key figure in the University’s history and former governor of Pennsylvania, president of Penn State’s Board of Trustees and acting president of the University from 1906 to 1908. When completed in 1960 it boasted 46,284 seats.

 

The stadium has more than doubled in size since it was moved from its former site, making it one of the largest stadiums in the country. Beaver Stadium has undergone numerous renovations since 1960 with the most recent major renovation in 2001 with the addition of the 60 skyboxes in a three-level structure above the East stands.

 

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