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Penn State trustees approve $700 million Beaver Stadium renovation project

A view of the exterior of Beaver Stadium.
Min Xian
A file photo of Beaver Stadium.

After an at-times contentious meeting, Penn State trustees voted Tuesday to approve up to $700 million in renovations to Beaver Stadium that the administration argued is needed and will help generate revenue.

Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi said the project will "drive economic development throughout the region."

“So many lives are dependent upon the success of Penn State," Bendapudi said. "And frankly this will set us up for a successful future, especially revenues for athletics.”

She reiterated that the project will not get money from tuition or educational budget funding. The board had voted in May 2023 to spend up to $70 million for the initial phases of the project. That $70 million is included in the maximum $700 million project cost.

PSU Beaver Stadium options
Penn State Board of Trustees

The final vote was 26 yes, two no, and three abstentions. It followed an unsuccessful motion by Barry Fenchak to delay a vote on the project and allow more time for discussion.

Fenchak said he agrees the stadium needs work. 

“If we take actions that are unwise actions, that lead to debt load draining the lifeblood of Athletics, the revenue, to service that, as opposed to being able to feed the growth of all of our sports, that’s not supportive of Athletics, that’s hindering Athletics," he said.

The Beaver Stadium project comes as the university has been offering buyouts to qualified employees at the Commonwealth Campuses and rolling out plans for budget cuts and program reviews.

Academic Trustee Nicholas Rowland said the broader Penn State community is "trying to square in our minds the immense budgetary issues that Penn State has — and especially the budgetary cuts that are going to my colleagues in the Commonwealth Campuses — and how to square those budgetary challenges that we’re facing with taking on such an immense debt.”

“If you could help me and other members of the Penn State community understand how we can be so in debt that my peers are worried about their jobs, and somehow $700 million is sensible," Rowland said.

Senior Vice President for Finance Sara Thorndike said at least $200 million in maintenance work needs to be done in Beaver Stadium.

“We don’t have the money within Athletics to do that work without generating new revenues," Thorndike said. "So in addition to the work we’re doing on the general funded budgets, we also need to respond to the ongoing maintenance needs of the stadium. This renovation plan responds to those needs by generating more revenues that will pay for the maintenance that is needed on the stadium.”

PSU Beaver Stadium welcome center drawing
Penn State Board of Trustees
A rendering of a Welcome Center that is part of plans for renovating Penn State's Beaver Stadium.

Plans are to complete the project by the fall 2027 football season. It includes adding more upgraded seats and suites, along with adding restrooms and concessions and improving circulation; and having a welcome center.

According to the university, those changes will help generate revenue, including by hosting events other than just football.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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