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Reduced capacity likely for Beaver Stadium's future

Since announcing its partnership with Populous last fall, questions have swirled regarding what recommendations the world-renowned consulting and architecture firm might make upon the release of its master plan.

Specifically, the future of Penn State’s Beaver Stadium has taken center stage.

A massive structure that can accommodate more than 107,000 fans, the stadium has seen six expansions since its inception. But, as Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour explained Wednesday afternoon to a small group of reporters, future recommendations will likely mean a downsizing of its overall capacity.

Larger seat sizes will likely mean a reduction in Beaver Stadium's capacity moving forward. (Steve Manuel/Blue White Illustrated)

“Beaver Stadium will get a little bit smaller,” said Barbour. “As you look at doing a wider seat and a longer tread, there's no way not to get smaller. I don't think it will be significant, but this seems to be the direction folks are going.”

Though she couldn't be specific about a potential number, Barbour did note that she anticipates Beaver Stadium's capacity remaining at more than 100,000.

Pointing to Ohio State’s recent announcement that its famed Horseshoe would be adding premium seating while reducing overall capacity by roughly 2,600 seats. It’s $42 million project is expected to be completed through the next four years, and Barbour echoed Ohio State AD Gene Smith’s remarks that the capacity race has come to an end.

“It's about driving value for our fans, and I would have to absolutely concur with that,” said Barbour.

Part of that value has been through an exhaustive process of gathering opinions and information from Penn State’s core fan base through the past nine months. Led by Populous, Barbour praised the firm’s work and the collaboration that has defined it. Said Barbour, “The end product is going to be as good as the process, the input and the collaboration along the way, and it's been outstanding.”

Though details of the master plan are still to be sent to Penn State in full, followed by a strategic rolling out of those plans by Intercollegiate Athletics weeks later, Barbour detailed some of the early feedback provided.

Better concessions, as well as entrance and exiting flow for the stadium, have been of utmost concern. Even an improvement in Beaver Stadium’s restroom toilet paper has been requested, she said. But, aiming to “benefit every fan in the stadium” with improved amenities, width and depth of seats throughout, Barbour said the fans’ input is being taken into serious consideration.

“Things our fans have asked for are around better concession offerings. In order to do that, our concession stands and our infrastructure needs to be modernized,” said Barbour. “Every facility I've ever renovated or addressed - and certainly football stadiums are big examples of this - but we need better restrooms. And we absolutely do.”