Attendance at Beaver Stadium has dipped this season, even though Penn State is 7-1 and ranked.
Attendance for two games (Indiana State and Eastern Michigan) has been below 100,000, the first time that has happened since Beaver Stadium was expanded for the 2001 season.
The Nittany Lions’ home game against Purdue two weeks ago drew an announced crowd of 100,820, the smallest for a Homecoming game since the stadium expansion. The only sellout was the Sept. 10 game against highly ranked Alabama.
Coach Joe Paterno has noticed. He blamed the slide in attendance on the weak economy and Penn State’s STEP (Seat & Transfer Equity Plan) that began this season.
“I think we moved people around,” Paterno said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “We had some people who had inherited some seats, some really good seats (and Penn State moved them).
“I think they’ve upped the prices. I think they’ve re-arranged the seating. So I think this is a season that people have had to adjust.”
Under the STEP program, season-ticket holders must pay $100 per seat to the Nittany Lion Club for seats in the end zone and stretching to near the 10-yard line, plus the price of the ticket ($55 per game).
Season-ticket holders with seats between the 10s must pay $400, $600 and $1,000 per seat to the NLC. Those are the sections where most of the empty seats have been located.
Alabama fans could be seen in those prime seats for the Crimson Tide’s game at Penn State.
“We still have 95,000, 100,000, 105,000, which is good,” Paterno said. “It (the attendance) will increase once the people get used to the new seating arrangements and can make adjustments to some of the prices.”
Tickets are still available for the Nittany Lions’ game Saturday against Illinois. The Nebraska game Nov. 12, the final home game of the season, is sold out.
“The economy is not great,” Paterno said. “It might not have been the best time for us to raise the prices on some of our seats, but we did. It probably had a bearing on it.”