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Penn State AD Pat Kraft Discusses Renovation Timeline, Beer Sales, More on Beaver Stadium

Penn State president-elect Neeli Bendapudi hands Penn State hat to incoming athletic director Dr. Patrick Kraft

A big topic of discussion in Penn State athletic director Pat Kraft’s media availability Tuesday night ahead of Big Ten Media Days revolved around Beaver Stadium.

In May, Penn State proposed Phase 1 of renovating its home since 1960, which the Board of Trustees approved.  

Here’s the timeline for Phase 1.

Here’s the timeline

  • June 2023: AE Selection, design start
  • June 2024: Pre-construction 
  • January 2025: Construction begins 
  • August 2027: Construction ends

Here’s the scope.

  • Penn State is working with the Nations Group on a project scope and financing plan.
  • The stadium’s west side will be completely renovated, and there will be amenity upgrades throughout the stadium. These upgrades will include better broadcasting access, significantly better circulation, new restrooms, improved concussion stand options and premium seating. 
  • Upgrades to the east side of the stadium’s vertical circulation that address improving accessibility and refresh the east side’s suites
  • Additions to restrooms and concessions on the north and east sides

And here’s what Kraft had to say about where the renovation project is, as well as some other hot topics regarding the stadium.

HAS AN ARCHITECT BEEN HIRED YET?

Kraft: Articuture instruction management firms are in the process of right now… I would love to be able to tell you, but I can’t because they’re not under contract. But they are. They’re going through, and they should be done, I would think, very, very, soon, and then they’ll be publically known. But that stuff, that’s not starting up. The design, what’s the look, what can we do, how do you do it, how do you create the revenue, so that’s starting.

We’re literally starting that in the weeks coming forward.”

IS PHASE 1 ON SCHEDULE?

“The goal would be to do all of the enabling projects right after this season. The winterization and get the design going…and then, the next season, you would be done with the design… still have to go to the board, you’d have to do all those steps, but then, you’re going right after, hopefully, the playoff game, in, what is it, ’25? And then you’re off to the races.

TUNNEL VISION

In May, Penn State announced the launch of the Beaver Stadium Tunnel Club.

Here’s what to know about what a marketing release calls a “new, exclusive space.”

  • It will be located on the south end of the stadium, where the team runs out of the “iconic south tunnel” before every home game.
  • It will feature two “members-only spaces.”
  • There will be an open bar
  • Free food and snacks will be provided
  • There will be private bathrooms
  • There will be exclusive WiFi that will require a password
  • “Spectacular views of the team taking the field each game”
  • Additional access
  • It will cost $10k a year to join.

The $10k will cover each of Penn State’s seven home games for members, as well as five additional events which are yet to be determined.

Kraft said it started by sending an email, and that email got 150 responses in an hour from people saying they wanted in.

“We were like, ‘What?’ he said. “It literally was that fast. There were 30 in five minutes. 

Kraft said the Tunnel Club has its first 30 members, and 30 is about all the club can fit for now. 

He’s hoping to expand it for next season.

Kraft also noted the access the Tunnel Club’s members will have to Penn State’s pregame entrance. 

“Having a year here, I understand and appreciate being that close to that moment, and I think it’s just another opportunity for us,” he said.

Per Kraft, the club has “a bathroom, good WiFi and a good bartender” and will be able to hold non-football-related events such as birthday parties. 

BEER

Penn State’s game against Northwestern Oct. 1 was the first game in Beaver Stadium history with beer sales. 

The stadium kept selling beer for the rest of the season, so how did that go?

Kraft feels it went well overall, but there were some problems. 

“We had to shut it down at times because the concourses just didn’t play the way they needed to,” he said.

“You would have beer lines, and then they would interfere with the bathrooms, and then they would interfere with the food, so there were moments in the first quarter where (we had to) shut it down. So we were not focused on the revenue as much as we were, like, ok, how do we fix this experience and make sure it’s good at all levels?” Kraft said. 

Kraft feels Penn State has that now, and the stadium plans to continue to sell beer in 2023. 

“We had consultants come in and help us figure that out. We’re going to continue to learn,” he said. 

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