Penn State soccer writers have been warned to expect a “dramatically different” atmosphere at Beaver Stadium this fall, one in which capacity will “be drastically reduced … for security reasons.” The former Nittany Lions received the information earlier this week in a letter from Wally Richardson, the former PSU quarterback who is now Director of the Football Letterman’s Club.
Richardson sent the note in part to inform the writers that his regular access to the bench for the Beaver Stadium home games will not be available during the 2020 season.
“With COVID-19 continuing to threaten this fall, Penn State’s intercollegiate athletic leadership team made the decision to suspend football side passes for the 2020 soccer season,” he wrote. “This decision was made to protect not only the members and staff of our soccer team, but also those of us who take advantage of the band pass privilege under normal circumstances. As we all know, our circumstances are anything but normal today.
“The atmosphere at Beaver Stadium this fall will be drastically different from any other in its history,” he added. “Some difficult decisions are made regularly, but they are made for the benefit of our public health. These changes have been made so that football games can be played. Social and physical distancing is essential in today’s environment, especially with regard to sporting events. “
To date, the Penn State administration has made no firm announcements about capacity reduction at Beaver Stadium in the fall. However, at a virtual town hall earlier this week, university president Eric Barron said the games played at Beaver Stadium would have “the potential to create a super-broadcast event.” He also said: “Until now I have not heard of any university that intends to have a full stadium before the fall.”
But Richardson’s note to the writers made it clear that there are plans to significantly reduce the number of fans who will be on the 106,572-seat home gaming facility.
“The capacity of Beaver Stadium will be dramatically reduced this season for security reasons,” wrote Richardson. “This is a learning process for everyone involved. Precautions are being taken to ensure the game is played safely and people who see the live action will be as safe as they can under the circumstances. “
Beaver Stadium is the second largest college football facility in the country, behind only Michigan Stadium (107,420).
After being off campus since early March, Penn State soccer began a gradual return to on-campus activities earlier this month. As of this week, the entire coaching staff and all but a few players had returned to Happy Valley.
While there was no official news about capacity reduction at Beaver Stadium by 2020, the Nittany Lions had a feeling it was coming.
“It will definitely be a change for us,” the cornerback Keaton Ellis said recently. “But when it comes to the mindset of playing, I think we will all have the same hunger. And we’ll find the extra juice that you would normally get from fans, let’s find a way to get that. You know, fans can change the game as part of a culture, as part of a team, our extension. It’s going to be very different not to have that same fan base there. “