For the first time in the history of Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lions will host five consecutive football games. The last time the University’s football team enjoyed home-field advantage for five straight games was in 1922 at Beaver Field -- Beaver Stadium’s much smaller predecessor.
This scheduling rarity, which covers each Saturday from mid-September through mid-October, will present challenges to those charged with staffing services and departments including parking, police, restaurants and hotels, but it also will bring a positive economic impact to the area and offer a unique luxury for the players and coaches who won’t have to contend with the pitfalls of traveling to an opponent’s home turf during that time.
“I think the biggest positive (of five consecutive home games) is from the student-athlete stand point," said Mark Bodenschatz, associate athletic director for facilities and event operations management. “To not have to travel and to have a home stand of five games in the beginning of the season, is the biggest advantage, by far.”
In addition to a total of seven home games this season, the away games – Temple, Ohio State, Maryland, Northwestern and Michigan State -- will be played not far from Happy Valley.
While home games are a real benefit for the football team, consecutive home games present challenges for those working in and around the stadium.
“Five home games in five weeks is pretty relentless. There’s very little time to turnover, to learn from the mistakes of the last game and to bring changes into the mix,” said Bodenschatz, who oversees ushers, gate keepers and parkers.
The good news is hosting crowds that turn the area into the third largest city in Pennsylvania is par for the course at Penn State.
“We’re prepared,” said Tyrone Parham, interim assistant vice president for police and public safety. “It’s a lot of mental preparation and and planning, but nothing that hasn’t been done before. Our biggest challenge is coordinating the many police departments involved in staffing the games. Fortunately for us, start times for three of the first five home games already have been determined.”