Beaver Stadium: The Home of Penn State Football

June 13, 2011

Beaver Stadium, the home of Penn State football, is one of the nation's premier football venues and the second-largest stadium in the United States. The stadium's capacity is 107,282 and standing-room crowds have exceeded that on numerous occasions. The largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history was 110,753, which witnessed Penn State’s 40-7 nighttime victory over Nebraska on Sept. 14, 2002.

The stadium is named in honor of James A. Beaver, a lawyer in nearby Bellefonte at the outbreak of the Civil War who enlisted in the Union Army and rose to the rank of brigadier general. Beaver, who died in 1914, served as a superior court judge, governor of Pennsylvania and president of the University's Board of Trustees. He is credited with being among the most influential leaders in the development of the University at the turn of the century.

Penn State dedicated Beaver Stadium with a 20-0 win over Boston University on Sept. 17, 1960. Nittany Lion halfback Eddie Caye scored the stadium's first touchdown at 10:45 of the first quarter.

The stadium has primarily been the site of Nittany Lion football, though until 1984, spring commencement ceremonies also were held there.

Among many historic moments at Beaver Stadium, most recently, legendary Nittany Lion football coach Joe Paterno recorded his 400th career victory, an NCAA Division I record, with a comeback win over Northwestern on Nov. 6, 2010 at the stadium. That season marked the 50th anniversary of the stadium's opening.

The stadium has undergone numerous expansions since opening at its current location, more than doubling its size since moving from its former site northeast of Rec Hall on the west side of campus to the east end of the campus in 1960. A north endzone upper deck was added in 1991, and a south endzone upperdeck and 60 enclosed skyboxes were added in 2001.

A uniquely engineered expansion during the winter, spring and summer of 1978 added more than 16,000 seats, bringing the capacity to 76,639 at the time. The stadium was cut into sections, raised eight feet by hydraulic jacks and precast concrete seating forms inserted within the inner circle of the stadium, where a running track previously had been located. Lights were added in 1984

Built in a horseshoe configuration seating 46,284 in 1960, the stadium now towers 110 rows on the east side, 100 rows on the west, 60 in the lower end zones, 35 in the north upper deck, 20 in the club seating level and 25 in the south upper deck.

Penn State's first permanent home for football was Beaver Field, which stood between the present-day Osmond and Frear laboratories in center campus. Before that, games were played on the Old Main lawn.

The first game at 500-seat Beaver Field was played on Nov. 6, 1893 against Western University of Pittsburgh (later to become the University of Pittsburgh). The 32-0 Penn State victory was delayed two days because of bad weather and played on a Monday afternoon.

New Beaver Field near Rec Hall was dedicated in 1909 with a 31-0 win over Grove City. Originally constructed of wood, the stadium was converted to steel in 1936. The area also contained facilities for baseball, lacrosse, soccer and track. New Beaver Field was the Lions' home through the 1959 season, after which the 30,000-seat stadium was dismantled and moved in 700 pieces one mile to the east side of campus. The old stadium was reassembled with 16,000 additional seats to form current-day Beaver Stadium.

Home to what is considered by many outside observers to be the best student section in the nation, Beaver Stadium's surrounding grounds have hosted since 2005 "Paternoville," an organized student encampment that lasts for days before home football games. Though students in the past occasionally camped out to get prime seats for a Saturday game, the formal organization of the tent town can be traced to the days leading up to the October 2005 Penn State-Ohio State game. Since then, Paternoville has become an official student club with detailed rules and regulations for camping outside the stadium's Gate A in advance of football games.

This Penn State landmark is part of the iHear Penn State self-guided cell phone campus tour, listed as stop #21.  Accessing iHear Penn State is easy. Dial the tour access number (814-308-5020) on your cell phone and follow the instructions. All stops are listed at

  • Beaver Stadium

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz

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Last Updated September 12, 2011