The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

September 20, 2013

Attendance down at Penn State football games

LEWISBURG — UNIVERSITY PARK — For die-hard Penn State football fans, attending the Nittany Lions’ home games remains a top priority — but it appears crowds at Beaver Stadium are shrinking after what many are calling a “perfect storm” of factors.

In fact, the past four home games — against Indiana and Wisconsin in 2012 and against Eastern Michigan and Central Florida this season — have seen the smallest crowds since the expansion of Beaver Stadium in 2001.

“There are definitely sections or vacant seats that you can see from the press box,” said Rick Coup, who works at Coup Agency Real Estate in Milton and as the message board operator at Penn State’s home games. “It’s been like that for the last couple years ... but before that, you never saw vacant sections.”

Attendance at Beaver Stadium continues to decline, down to an average of 96,730 in 2012 — good enough for fifth-best in the country, but paltry compared with the average of 108,254 in 2008. Last season was the first in which crowds averaged fewer than 100,000 since 2001, according to Penn State Athletic Department statistics.

And that fifth-place ranking is also the lowest for the school since 2001.

The first two home games this year had attendances of 92,863 and 92,855, respectively. And with Kent State visiting this weekend, crowds may not get larger anytime soon.

However, those that do show up are still “giving it their all,” Coup said. “The ones that are coming are certainly true Penn State die-hards.”

The reasons for the recent decline in ticket sales may be the result of what Coup calls a “perfect storm” of factors: The implementation of STEP — the Seat Equity and Transfer Program — the economic downturn and backlash from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

“Between those three things, that’s pretty much” the reason, Coup said.

Tim Krushinski, a Shamokin native and season ticket-holder who lives in Media, Delaware County, said he hasn’t heard many rumblings about the Sandusky case, and says he thinks lower attendance is related to prices.

“Other colleges are seeing the same thing because it’s so expensive,” he said. “You’re just starting to see a decline across a lot of schools.”

Representatives of the Penn State Athletic Department could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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