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Penn State Says No On-Campus Football Tailgating, But Community Concerns Remain

Gates to Beaver Stadium on Penn State's University Park campus in summer 2020.
Min Xian

Penn State will have a football season this year after all, and despite precautions the university says it will take, concerns remain in the community about whether home games could contribute to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Penn State and other Big Ten universities voted unanimously to have a football season this fall, starting the weekend of Oct. 23.

In its announcement, the Big Ten outlined various precautions it says schools will take. Student-athletes will be tested daily, as will coaches and trainers.

Penn State said it won’t sell tickets to the public for its games. Tailgating will not be allowed.

But Borough Council President Jesse Barlow said he thinks it’s a bad idea.

“I think it’s a concern, and a lot of the local residents I have heard from are not happy about it," he said.

The borough has an ordinance limiting gatherings at homes to 10 people.

“It’s likely you’ll see people gathering in big parties to watch football. And normally that’s fine," Barlow said."Our ordinance is probably going to be flagrantly violated in ways that we can’t enforce.”

Speaking during a press conference Thursday, Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour said the Big Ten made the decision to "not to have fans out of an abundance of caution."

“You’re not going to be able to do tailgating on the campus as much as we would love you be able to do this," Barbour said. 

The Big Ten says if more than 5% of a team's athletes test positive over a one-week period, the team’s practice and competition will stop. 

According to test results released Wednesday, 50 Penn State athletes tested positive out of 859 last week. The university did not say which sports they play. 

Penn State Athletics says it expects to get a football game schedule in the next seven to 10 days. They’re expected to play eight regular-season games.

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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