Beaver Stadium sits in the shadows of Mt. Nittany in University Park, PA, also known as Happy Valley. With a capacity of 107,282, Beaver Stadium is the 2nd largest college football stadium in the country.
The stadium was built in 1960 when the University relocated Beaver Field from the middle to the edge of campus. A large number of the seats are from the old Beaver Field when the wooden bleachers were replaced with steel in 1936. The rural setting of the stadium and its unique design - often referred to as erector-set-like - is what makes Beaver Stadium unlike any other that you will visit.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Unlike most stadiums these days, the concession stands are run by student organizations and local youth groups who receive a portion of their sales to help pay for trips and events. While this is a great idea to help the community, it leads to less knowledgeable staff and slower service. The food itself is very generic outside of the Berk's hot dogs. Prices are reasonable for stadium food with popcorn and soft pretzels at $2, hot dogs, nachos, bottled water and 28oz sodas for $3 and hamburgers and cheeseburgers for $4. A few stands around the stadium also carry chicken finger baskets with fries for $7.
The atmosphere can really vary depending on the game you attend. Games against FCS and lesser known FBS teams seem to bring a very stale environment, particularly for noon games. The student section will often not reach capacity for these games until into the 2nd quarter, if at all, while the alumni seem to spend more time complaining about the upcoming seat license increases instead of cheering on the team. It is still fairly loud because it is 110,000 people, but not the same as a huge conference or rivalry game.
Seeing a whiteout for a 8pm kickoff is out of this world. The town itself will draw over 200,000 people for the big games with tailgating starting at 8am and lasting right up until kickoff. Strangers offer food to those tailgating around them, sharing stories and Yuengling Lager with both the Penn State and visiting team fans. The student section fills early and it often gets over 100 decibels throughout the game. The students lead the "We Are....Penn State" chant and conduct a series of "waves" starting out with a normal around the stadium wave, followed by a series of really fast ones and then finishing with a super slow wave that takes minutes to make its way around the stadium just once.
The overall attitude toward visiting fans is very good, with the exception being the student section. I think this welcoming atmosphere is something that helps make a trip to Beaver Stadium more enjoyable for visiting fans than some other stadiums around the country.
The stadium itself is located on the edge of campus. The South and West sides of the stadium are surrounded by Penn State's other sports complexes while the North and East sides are vast farm lands used for the agricultural school at the University. These farm fields turn into tens of thousands of tailgates on game day. Downtown State College is about a half mile from the stadium and contains a wide variety of bars, restaurants and shops. Unlike campuses located in more urban areas, the University and the town are separated by the main road, College Avenue. This makes it very easy to know where you are and find what you are looking for. On the North side of campus, you can take a walk through College Heights and see the house where Joe Paterno lives, about 3/4 of a mile from the stadium.
As mentioned earlier, the adult fans are known around the college football scene as being some of the nicest, most welcoming fans. They are also very knowledgeable about the rules on controversial calls. The drawback for the alumni sections is that they are known to be very strict in expecting you to sit in your seat at all times. Some even get offended by the occasional beach ball and will pop them if they land near them.
The student section is continually rated as one of the best in the country, but can be a bit abrasive toward opposing fans. The student section is essentially the opposite of the alumni section. They stand the entire game, hang signs, camp out all week at "Paternoville" and yell obscenities at opposing fans and players. They are extremely loud for the big games while they barely even show up for lesser opponents.
Parking is basically endless, but it can take a long time to finally make it through traffic and into your parking spot. The parking directly around the stadium requires prepaid passes tied to your giving level to the athletic fund. The normal parking lots are $10 if you pre-buy your pass, but are an insane $40 if you just drive up the day of the game. No lot is further than a 15 or 20 minute walk from the stadium and handicap lots are available with a tram that takes you right to the stadium. If you want to avoid the parking fees and traffic, there are 2 free shopping plaza lots a few miles away from the stadium with shuttles available for $2 each way per person. The drawback to the shuttle is that the line is often a 45 minute wait or longer after the game as the transportation system they use for the shuttle is very inefficient.
Once you get to the stadium, it is best if you don't bring a bag. The security line to have your bag checked usually takes 20 minutes or so to get through. The main issue is that there are only 3 gates for non-students to the stadium, and only 2 lines for bag checks at each gate. This is basically 85,000 fans trying to get into 3 gates. You need to plan accordingly.
Once inside the stadium, finding your section can take a little bit to find because things are not as well marked as they could be. Lower sections can be accessed from ground level or the middle level of the stadium, while the upper East and West sections can only be accessed off of the middle concourse. The North and South end zone additions require you to go up an additional set of ramps. There is only 1 set of escalators in the stadium and once you get to the middle concourse, they are restricted to Club ticket holders. Handicapped access to some levels requires a ride in a golf cart because of a lack of elevators.
While there really isn't any seat that is bad, some can become limited view as people continually go up and down to access the rest rooms and concession stands. Try to avoid aisle seats on the East and West sides of the stadium. Most tickets are $55 face value and can usually be found for less from street scalpers for the lesser games. Big games such as Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska will often cost a few hundred per ticket. The real drawback to season tickets is the required donation per seat for the right to buy the tickets. End zone seats cost $100 per seat per year, while sideline seats are $400 or $600 per seat per year based on proximity to the 50 yard line. This additional cost really drives up the aftermarket ticket price.
There are some extras that really are worth mentioning. The grass field at Beaver Stadium is one of, if not the best in the country. The turf management major at Penn State is top rated and it really shows, especially on rainy days because the field never gets the major divots like your average grass field. Another top program is showcased at The Creamery, which is located on campus about a 1/2 mile from the stadium. It is extremely rich, award winning ice cream made right on campus using the milk produced by the school of agriculture.
Also make sure that you make it to your seat at least 30 minutes before kickoff where you will see one of the best college marching bands in the nation. Rarely standing still, the bands pregame ritual includes flips by the drum major, world champion majorettes and of course the Nittany Lion mascot. The band also plays a post-game concert that is worth watching as it allows the stadium to clear before you exit.
If you are in town for the entire weekend, taking a hike up infamous Mt. Nittany is a great experience, especially during late September when the leaves are changing colors. You can take a beautiful picture of the stadium from the top of the mountain, well worth the trip. Overall, a trip to Beaver Stadium will be one of the most memorable stadium trips you can make for a college football game.
Been to about 10 games at Beaver Stadium so far. If the weather is nice, you have several square miles of tailgating on the fields that surround the stadium. If the weather is poor, you have several square miles of tailgating the snow or mud. Either way, the crowds are huge and fun and knowledgeable and LOUD. The student section is wild. Avoid it if you'd like to be able to hear any time during the next few weeks. The stadium and field are amazing but it is the overall experience is makes it worth the trip and ticket prices. I gave the food an average rating only because, I've never eaten any food from inside the stadium. All food eating is done outside. State College is a great little town with lots of good places to eat and drink.
Everyone should experience a white house at night once in their lifetime.
1925 Waddle Rd
State College, PA 16803