University Park, Pa. -- The Penn State Board of Trustees today (Sept. 17) approved final plans for renovations to Beaver Stadium that will improve accessibility for patrons with disabilities. The project includes accessible routes to new seats that are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
According to Al Horvath, who presented the plan to the trustees, the project will create 294 ADA and companion seats along the East, North and West stands. Four new accessible ramps will link these ADA seats to the field level concourse and to new accessible restroom facilities.
Mark Bodenschatz, associate athletic director for facilities, explained that the Americans with Disabilities Act soon will require stadiums to reserve half a percent of their capacity for ADA and companion seating, a reduction from the original 1 percent required. Although venues don't need to come into compliance unless they're doing other major renovations, Penn State is being proactive in beginning to make changes now, rather than waiting until any major renovation projects are planned down the road.
"We're going to remove the first three rows of seats in the East and West stands, and put in a level platform where those three rows of seats existed to provide ADA-compliant wheelchair seats," Bodenschatz said. "One of the things ADA requires is that you have dispersed seating that's not just centralized in one area. Expanding ADA seating beyond the North end zone field level seats and the South end zone main concourse seats provides opportunities for multiple viewing points throughout the field."
The changes are going to have an immediate positive impact on fans. Bodenschatz said that in completing this project, Beaver Stadium will create 147 ADA seats and 147 companion seats.
"However, these mandatory accommodations will result in a net loss of 416 seats in the stadium."
Because these changes are being made at the same time as the Seat Transfer and Equity Program, patrons holding tickets in the areas that are being converted to ADA seating will be more easily re-seated, Bodenschatz said.
In addition to the ADA improvements, Horvath said the project will include storm and sanitary upgrades, as well as 3,400 square feet of new secure storage space.
The total project budget is $10 million. Construction will begin after the last game in November, and will be complete in August 2011.