Traffic jams, busy parking lots and crowded points of entry are coming back to Beaver Stadium on football Saturdays this fall.
Only, nobody is going to mind as much now as they did back in 2019.
Penn State announced Tuesday Beaver Stadium and other athletics venues on campus will return to full capacity for the 2021-22 academic year, meaning the Nittany Lions will likely play in front of more than 100,000 fans during their home opener against Ball State on Sept. 11.
The decision comes on the heels of updated guidance from Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, who announced Sunday that COVID-19 mitigation orders lifted Monday morning would allow businesses, events and venues statewide to open at 100 percent capacity. It will mark the first time since the Big Ten suspended play in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that a game can be played on campus in front of a sold-out crowd.
Penn State played five football games at Beaver Stadium last fall, but attendance was strictly limited to players’ family members.
“We are excited to welcome our 107K strong back in Beaver Stadium and full capacity at our other athletics venues this fall with the adjustments in university, local, state and CDC guidance,” Penn State vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour said in a statement. “Our fans are a true home-field advantage for all of our teams, and the 2020-21 season was not the same without them in our venues.”
Traditional pregame festivities — the team’s arrival via bus and the gathering of fans to greet them, tailgating and, of course, the new traffic patters that were such a big story in 2019 — also make their return along with the full capacity crowds at Beaver Stadium this fall. But, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some changes.
In alignment with CDC guidance and Penn State policy, unvaccinated fans will be required to wear masks inside buildings at all times after June 28. Penn State also plans to convert to fully mobile ticketing, to limit contact points and promote improved delivery and management of tickets.
Football season ticket holders will be notified via email starting June 8 that their 2021 season ticket and non-refundable seat contribution invoices will be available online.
Donnie Collins has been a member of The Times-Tribune sports staff for nearly 20 years and has been the Penn State football beat writer for Times-Shamrock Newspapers since 2004. The Penn State Football Blog covers Nittany Lions, Big Ten and big-time college football news from Beaver Stadium to the practice field, the bowl game to National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9100 x5368; @DonnieCollinsTT