PSU Dealing with Empty Stands

By John Clay

Published 11/06 2013 03:27PM

Updated 11/07 2013 12:06AM

Penn State is breaking records these days for the smallest crowds at Beaver Stadium.
The 10 games with the smallest attendence, were all over the last 3 years. 4 from that group were from this year alone.
Keep in mind this is ticket sales and any other people in the stadium, not actual attendance. If someone bought a seat and didn't show up, they're counted in these attendance numbers. Penn state won't give us the actual attendance.

So why all the empty seats? Of the hundreds that responded to that question on our Facebook page, firing Joe Paterno and the Sandusky scandal were the 2nd and 3rd most common reasons given.
The top was the change in ticket prices. In 2011, Penn State changed it's pricing structure with STEP, or the Seat Transfer And Equity Program. In most cases they required people to increase their contributions to keep their same seats. 

But some fans say this is the perfect time to show their support.
Hosting a tailgate outside beaver stadium is almost heaven for Martin Duff.  He's been a Penn State fan almost his whole life. His parents went to Penn State, and when he got here Joe Paterno was just starting out. It's been a love affair with the school and town ever since. It hasn't been easy for some people to stay in love with the program these last few years.Duff wishes things were handled differently with Joe Paterno, but he's moving forward with the university in hopes that his grandchildren will have the same experiences he did.

John Rita is also sharing Penn State with his family. He fell in love with the school and town in 1991, his senior year.
11 years later, he decided to spend $10,000 a year on part of a suite at Beaver Stadium. He kept it up for 10 years, and that got him the kind of points that translated into great seats. But in 2011, Penn State changed their pricing system with a program called STEP.
Rita says his tickets jumped in price from $100 each to $600 each. He tried to downgrade, but didn't find a logical deal.
After investing more than $100,000 in Penn State, he ended up with 2000 points to help him get great seats. But he says the university allowed people who invested $200 to $300 dollars got to choose seats before he did.
So Rita dropped his season tickets and suite. Now, on occasion, he buys tickets on the secondary market.
He's not sure if he'll ever return as a season ticket holder because he doesn't think he was treated fairly.
Rita says he's not surprised there are so many empty seats in the stadium. He thinks STEP was the right play, but the university fumbled the ball on how they treated the fans.

Penn State tells us they don't have any plans to change the STEP program at this time.

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