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Beaver Stadium

Beaver Stadium
Former names Beaver Field
Location Pennsylvania State University
127 Bryce Jordan Center
University Park, PA 16802
Owner Pennsylvania State University
Operator Pennsylvania State University
Capacity 106,572
Record attendance 110,753 (2002)
Surface Natural grass
Broke ground 1959
Opened September 17, 1960
Capacity 46,284
Renovated 2008 Marquee boards added
1985 Walkways and Ramps Added
1984 Lights Added
Expanded 2011
2001 Capacity 107,282
1991 Capacity 93,967
1985 Capacity 83,370
1980 Capacity 83,770
1978 Capacity 76,639
1976 Capacity 60,203
1972 Capacity 57,538
1969 Capacity 46,284
Construction cost $1.6 million[1]
($12.8 million in 2016 dollars[2])
$93 million (2001 expansion)
Architect Michael Baker Jr., Inc.[3]
HOK Sport (2001 expansion)
Penn State Nittany Lions (NCAA) (1960–present)

Beaver Stadium is an outdoor college football stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania, United States, on the campus of The Pennsylvania State University. It is home to the Penn State Nittany Lions of the Big Ten Conference since 1960, though some parts of the stadium date back to 1909. The stadium is named after James A. Beaver, a former governor of Pennsylvania (1887–91) and president of the university's board of trustees.[4]

Beaver Stadium has an official seating capacity of 106,572,[5] making it currently the second largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere and the third largest in the world.

Beaver Stadium is widely known as one of the toughest venues for opposing teams in collegiate athletics. In 2008, Beaver Stadium was recognized as having the best student section in the country for the second consecutive year.[6]

The stadium is the first to have its interior included in Google Street View.[7]


  • History 1
    • Predecessors 1.1
    • Expansions 1.2
  • Records 2
    • Attendance records 2.1
      • Largest crowds 2.1.1
  • Traditions 3
    • Tailgating 3.1
    • Student Section "S-Zone" 3.2
    • Whiteout Games 3.3
    • Zombie Nation 3.4
    • Tunnel Entrance 3.5
    • Fast & Slow Wave 3.6
    • Band Traditions 3.7
      • The Flip 3.7.1
      • Floating Lions 3.7.2
  • References 4
  • External links 5



The Senior Section, otherwise known as the "S-Zone," dressed to form the letter "S"

Until 1893, Penn State teams participated in sporting events on Old Main lawn, a large grassy area in front of the primary classroom building of the time. Beaver Field, a 500-seat structure located behind the current site of the Osmond Building, was the first permanent home for Penn State's football team, and the first game played there was a Penn State victory over Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh) on November 6, 1893. In 1909, New Beaver Field opened just northeast of Rec Hall, roughly in the current location of the Nittany Parking deck. It served as Penn State's stadium until 1960, when the entire 30,000 seat stadium was dismantled and moved to the east end of campus, reassembled and expanded to 46,284 seats—the lower half of the current facility—and dubbed Beaver Stadium.


Endzone Club & Upper Concourse Expansion, Summer 2001

The stadium has been expanded six times, reflecting Penn State's rise to national prominence under Joe Paterno—more than doubling in size in the process. Expansions in 1972 brought capacity to 57,538. Another expansion in 1976 increased capacity to 60,203. In 1978, 16,000 seats were added when the stadium was cut into sections and raised on hydraulic lifts, allowing the insertion of seating along the inner ring of the stadium where the track had previously been located, raising capacity to 76,639. In 1980, maximum capacity increased to 83,770. In 1985, walkways were added around the tops of the end zones and entry ramps at the stadium's corners resulted in lowering the capacity to 83,370. An expansion was completed for the 1991 football season, placing an upper deck addition over the north end zone and raising capacity to 93,967.

A major and somewhat controversial construction project took place in 2001, raising the stadium's total capacity to 107,282. An upper deck was added to the south end of the stadium, blocking the view of neighboring Nittany Mountain (which had sentimental value for some fans), but making Beaver Stadium the second largest stadium in nation, behind Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI.

In 2006, the stadium underwent major structural and aesthetic upgrades. Old steel beams supporting the upper seats in the east, north and west were replaced and strengthened, and new railing was installed, stronger than the old railing which collapsed following the 2005 Ohio State game.

In 2007, over 22,000 student tickets sold out in 59 minutes. In 2008, when tickets were sold by grade, tickets allotted for junior students sold out in 90 seconds, and those for sophomores and freshmen sold out in under three minutes each.

In 2011, the stadium capacity was reduced from 107,282 seats to 106,572 to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.[8]

A view of the lettering and years added to the suites in 2006.

The appearance of the stadium has been enhanced with the addition of large blue letters spelling out "The Pennsylvania State University" on the west-facing suites, and a list of Penn State's undefeated, national championship, and Big Ten championship years underneath. 2012 is the exception, which was added to this list during the November 24, 2012 game against Wisconsin to honor the team that played after sanctions were passed down during the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. On the opposite side of the stadium, letters spelling, "Penn State Nittany Lions" have been added to the press box, with "Beaver Stadium" running below. Nine markers depicting the various traditions of Beaver Stadium, including the Blue Band, the student section, and the blue buses which bring the team to the stadium, have been placed around the stadium as well. In late October, the walls surrounding the field were refaced with Pennsylvania limestone. An iron gate has replaced the old chain-link face at the players' entrance into the stadium. On the new gate the words "PENN STATE" appear in blue.

The Penn State Office of Physical Plant and Athletic Department expanded the North and South Video Boards to make them high definition and because parts were no longer available for the old boards.The area of the new video screens dedicated to game replays and game-related video is much larger than the screens they replaced. The two video boards together are some of the largest in college football. The renovation expanded the size of the video boards by eliminating the current game clock and lamp matrix display. The boards are only the second of their kind made and are 4k UHD. The project was completed prior to the first home game of the 2014 season. The boards cost approx. 10 million dollars. Also on the back of both boards is a nittany lion logo that lights up at night and was added to promote the "Penn State Brand". Starting with the 2015 season fireworks are shot off from the top of each scoreboard when the team takes the field.

In the fall semester of 2015, University Officials stated that they are seeking options to renovate or replace Beaver Stadium in the next 10 years.[9] Officials state that there is a recognized need in an upgrade in the facilities. The stadium remains antiquated, despite multiple expansions and the additions of luxury boxes and high-definition scoreboards. Outdated plumbing requires complete winterization each November. Elevators are small and sluggish while concourses are narrow. The stadium lacks concession options and still uses bleachers. The limitations prevent wider use of the venue. Many fans are opposed to replacing Beaver Stadium due to the history and tradition but many agree that there is a need for renovation.


109,839 people were in attendance when the Nittany Lions defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2005.[10]

Beaver Stadium's record crowd of 110,753 witnessed Penn State's 40–7 victory over Nebraska on September 14, 2002.[11]

In 2002, Penn State also set an NCAA record for largest season attendance, with 1,257,707 watching Penn State games over the course of the season.[12]

The Penn State community boasts that during home games at State College the stadium is the 4th largest city by "population" in the state. It follows Philadelphia (1,517,550), Pittsburgh (334,563), Allentown (118,032), and precedes Erie (101,786).

Attendance records

Largest crowds

Rank Attendance Date Game result
1 110,753 Sept. 14, 2002 Penn State 40, Nebraska 7
2 110,134 Oct. 27, 2007 Penn State 17, Ohio State 37
3 110,078 Sept. 8, 2007 Penn State 31, Notre Dame 10
4 110,033 Nov. 7, 2009 Penn State 7, Ohio State 24
5 110,017 Oct. 18, 2008 Penn State 46, Michigan 17
6 110,007 Oct. 14, 2006 Penn State 10, Michigan 17
7 109,865 Nov. 5, 2005 Penn State 35, Wisconsin 14
8 109,845 Nov. 22, 2008 Penn State 49, Michigan State 18
9 109,839 Oct. 8, 2005 Penn State 17, Ohio State 10
10 109,754 Oct. 13, 2007 Penn State 38, Wisconsin 7



Tailgating is very popular outside Beaver Stadium. Alcohol is permitted in all areas around Beaver Stadium on home football games, except inside Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center (Alcohol is permitted inside Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, but only alcohol purchased inside the ballpark). Both the Bryce Jordan Center and Medlar Field at Lubrano Park are open for special events before kickoff during home football games.

Student Section "S-Zone"

The "S-Zone" within the student section is another tradition at Beaver Stadium.[13][14] A small section behind the end zone are all given white and blue shirts supplied the Pennsylvania State University Lion Ambassadors to create an "S" in the student section. The "S-zone" was moved from the 20 yard line to its current location at the beginning of the 2011 football season, as the student section was shifted over to between the 10 yard lines. For the 2008, 2011, and 2013 Homecoming Games, the "S-zone" was black and pink, in honor of the original Penn State colors. On April 21, 2007, for the Annual Blue and White Game (Spring Scrimmage), the "S" zone was converted to a "VT" zone, in honor of the victims of the massacre that took place on April 16, 2007, at Virginia Tech.

Whiteout Games

After failed experiments with "Code Blue" during the down year of 2004, a localized version of the "Winnipeg White Out" made national headlines during the famed 2005 game versus Ohio State. In this game, despite 40 °F (4 °C) temperatures and a misty rain, nearly every student, along with many other fans, wore a white shirt to the game, creating a sea of white.[15] This was deemed a success, as the student section was declared "the best in the country" by ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, and the Nittany Lions won the game in an intense defensive battle, by a score of 17–10. The student section was widely credited with aiding the defense, which kept the Buckeyes' future Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Troy Smith, in check by intercepting a pass and recovering a decisive fumble in the final minutes. Smith was forced to call several timeouts during the game due to inability to communicate with his offense on the field. Former Ohio State Center Nick Mangold has openly admitted that Beaver Stadium was the toughest stadium he had ever played in.

In 2007, for the Notre Dame game, a full-stadium "White House" was declared after the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes notified the university that the phrase "White Out" was trademarked by the franchise during their time as the Winnipeg Jets.[16] The newly christened "White House" was also deemed a success, as nearly every Penn State fan in attendance wore white, and the Lions won, 31–10. In 2008, the White House was met with similar success, a 38–24 win over Illinois.

Zombie Nation

Zombie Nation is a tradition carried out by the Nittany Lions usually after a big play. Zombie Nation is when the entire Penn State crowd jumps around, waves their rally towels or shakers wildly, and shouts "WE ARE PENN STATE" during the playing of "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation.

Tunnel Entrance

The tunnel entrance is a Nittany Lions tradition in which the head coach leads the team from the locker room under the South side of the stadium to the tunnel to a closed metal gate reading "PENN STATE" in bold Arial font. When the team arrives at the gate, the Nittany Lion would open the gate and motion for the team to walk through it, as if welcoming the team to the field. The team would then linger until four minutes were left on the pregame clock, and then the head coach leads the team through the tunnel created by the Blue Band.

Fast & Slow Wave

The Penn State Student section initiates slow speed waves during sporting events. After the wave passes around the stadium, the student section speeds the wave up to over twice the normal speed on the second pass. On the third pass, the wave is then slowed down to about a fourth the speed of the normal wave. It has, on occasion, been reversed following the third pass; the wave travelling on the fourth pass in the opposite direction.

Band Traditions

The Flip

After the Penn State Blue Band has entered the field, and played the first 8 bars of "Hail to the Lion," the Blue Band's Drum Major does a high-stepping, stiff-legged sprint in between rows of band members from the goal line to the 50 yard line, where he does a front flip. Legend states that if the drum major lands the flip, the team will win that afternoon. He then performs another flip while running towards the end zone. After he stands back up, he and the Nittany Lion, who is holding his baton, take 5 high-steps toward each other, meeting 5 yards deep in the end zone. The Lion and Drum Major both place both hands on the baton in alternating order (in the same manner children choosing teams with a baseball bat would) and then throw the baton into the ground. They then salute each other, embrace arms, and then both excitedly run towards the student section, where they are cheered enthusiastically.

Floating Lions

The Blue Band performs "Hail to the Lion" and makes its way from its "PSU" formation to roll into spelling "LIONS" as it marches across the field. Once reaching the other side, the band reverses the "LIONS" to be readable to the East side of the stadium, while playing "Fight On, State." This is known as the "trademark drill" of the Blue Band.


  1. ^ Beaver Stadium History Essay
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "Baker Firm designed New Grid Stadium".  
  4. ^ Musselman, Ron (September 16, 2008). "Why Is It Called Beaver Stadium?".  
  5. ^ Beaver Stadium - Penn State University Official Athletic Site - Facilities
  6. ^ Herbstreit, Kirk (August 25, 2008). "The Nation's Best: Eighth Annual Herbie Awards". ESPN. 
  7. ^ "Google Maps' Street View captures University Park, including stadium". Penn State Live. January 21, 2010. 
  8. ^ Rovell, Darren (November 25, 2012). "Penn State's Attendance Down Again". Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Penn St. officials looking to renovate or replace stadium in near future". October 1, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Penn State-Ohio State Clash Delivers ESPN's Second Largest College Football Audience". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. October 12, 2005. Retrieved May 30, 2006. 
  11. ^ "Penn State Team Game-by-Game Statistics". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. Retrieved May 30, 2006. 
  12. ^ "Penn State Fans Earn Top Four Finish in NCAA Football Attendance For 15th Consecutive Year". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. February 27, 2006. Retrieved May 30, 2006. 
  13. ^ "S-Zone". Lion Ambassadors - Penn State Student Alumnai Corps. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  14. ^ Fogarty, Ali. "What Goes Into Creating the S-Zone?". Onward State. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  15. ^ Cary, Lee. "'"Evolution of Penn State's 'Whiteout. The Daily Collegian. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  16. ^

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • Stadium History and Records
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