So you haven't seen a game at Beaver Stadium? My condolences. The second-highest capacity football stadium in the world boasts one of the premier College Football Saturdays in the nation. Follow along and we'll give you a glimpse at the stadium, the tailgating scene, and the gameday experience in State College, Pennsylvania.
History and Design
Named after former Pennsylvania governor and PSU trustee James A. Beaver, Beaver Stadium has been the name of every Penn State football team's home since they stopped playing in an open field by Old Main in 1893. The current facility, located at the northeast corner of campus, started off at a relatively modest capacity of 46,284 in 1960. By the 1980's the stadium had been expanded to fit 83,770 fans; in 1991 another expansion pushed capacity past 90,000.
Today's Beaver Stadium came into existence in 2001:
[The 2001 expansion raised] 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. When filled to capacity (as it often is on game-day), Beaver Stadium is the third largest city in Pennsylvania, beating out Allentown (population 107,250).
The stadium's highest capacity, 110, 753, was on September 14, 2002 when the #25 Nittany Lions clobbered the #7 Nebraska Cornhuskers to the tune of 40-7.
As for design, well...Beaver Stadium is not exactly the next Roman Coliseum, or even Michigan Stadium or Ohio Stadium. While other fanbases may be able to credit famous architects for their stadium designs, our famous designer is probably Dr. Frankenstein:
How about you try adding 60,000+ seats incrementally over 40 years and make it look good from the outside? I like to think of it as the result of a passionate fanbase that refuses to stop growing. Or something.
A few other interesting characteristics of the building include a statue of our legendary head coach:
As well as the years of every season Penn State has gone undefeated, won the national championship, or won a Big Ten championship: (Best picture I could find, but outdated: 2008 is up there now.)
Culture and Tailgating
Alright, we're all in the Big Ten here. We have big fan bases, big enrollments, and big stadiums. The tailgating is probably great just about everywhere (don't screw me on this, Northwestern). While Beaver Stadium may not be a miracle of modern design, its location is absolutely ideal for a sea of tailgates.
The stadium is situated on the corner of campus, and in most directions you have wide open grassy lots. RV's and canopies sprawl out as far as the eye can see with very little buildings or roads to cramp them. Beyond that, Mount Nittany and the other surrounding mountains offer a beautiful backdrop for a fall day.
Fans and the Gameday Experience
Penn State Student Section (via macaronicheesetomato)
How about the opinion of some Ohio State players?
OSU Players Talk About Beaver Stadium (via rmcmillen50)
"But Paterno Ave," you say, "those videos are, like, 3 years old!" True. Old. Fortunately, Herbstreit has continued to recognize Penn State's student section as recently as last August, awarding us the "Herbie" for the third year in a row for best student section prior to the 2009 season. Another little anecdote: the players polled at the Big Ten Media Days earlier this week also thought Beaver stadium had the best stadium atmosphere in the conference last year.
While I'm sure every Big Ten stadium is its own beautiful snowflake, and that some of them have a wonderful gameday experience...come out east and let us show you how it's done.