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PA set to lift COVID gathering restrictions May 31, paving way for sports venues to sell out

Photo by Penn State

Some big news out this afternoon for many aspects of life in Pennyslvania, including sports franchises, universities and fans. Gov. Tom Wolf announced that, effective May 31 “all COVID 19 restrictions related to gatherings, restaurants, and other businesses will be lifted.”

That should mean venues such as Beaver Stadium and Altoona’s Peoples Natural Gas Field should be able to start selling tickets with the goal of reaching full capacity — again, effective May 31.

Mask restrictions, however, will remain in place, according to Gov. Wolf, until “70 percent of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated.”

Current PA guidelines stipulate that outdoor sports venues could only hold 50 capacity. But it also stipulates 6 feet of social distancing, thereby making it impossible for places such as Beaver Stadium or PNG Field to come anywhere close to half capacity.

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said Beaver Stadium could only hold about 20,000 fans under those guidelines. The Altoona Curve, with a ballpark capacity of 10,000, could only hold 2,300 fans under the 6 foot restriction.

But the 50 percent capacity and 6 foot distancing restrictions now apparently will be lifted at the end of this month, per Wolf’s new policy.

Barring any other surprise developments, these changes should mean that Penn State can sell out Beaver Stadium this fall, at its 107,000 capacity number. The Altoona Curve also should be in position to sell out at PNG Field.

Penn State fans were already getting excited Tuesday about the possibility of a packed stadium.

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Update: 4:20 p.m.

The Altoona Curve have posted the following on their video board at Peoples Natural Gas Field:

“Based on the announcement today from Governor Wolf, Curve management will be announcing details of a plan in the next few days to open capacity at Peoples Natural Gas Field back to 100% starting June 8.”

That June 8 date is the first day the Curve will host a home game following the May 31 change from Gov. Wolf.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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