Football is back in Happy Valley, but Beaver Stadium won’t be full of its typical 110,000 rowdy fans. Instead, spectators now have the option of purchasing cardboard cutouts of themselves and others to appear in the stands.
The Big Ten has collectively decided to minimize any risk during the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed that no school will allow fans to attend the eight-game, already unconventional football season. Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour says they plan to accommodate the players’ families only.
Cardboard cutouts for Beaver Stadium are on sale to students for $65, while non-students can purchase one for $85 and three additional cutouts for $75 each. This per game price for cutouts might seem steep to some, but part of the proceeds will benefit THON as well as some Penn State equity and diversity programs such as the Bunton-Waller scholarship.
Madison Tice, a junior broadcast journalism major says, “I personally will not be purchasing a cutout, I think it’s entirely too expensive, but I don’t have any doubt that other people will. All of PSU football is a money pit.” Regular season student tickets that include seven home games usually go for $239 but with just four home games this year, one student cutout per game will still end up costing a whopping $260.
Saturdays in Happy Valley are usually defined by football games, and some students are more on board with the situation than others. Taylor Levant, a senior in the master’s accounting program says, “While I will not be purchasing a cutout for the game, I believe Penn State offering this opportunity is still a great thing. We live in a world where there is no normal, and Penn State is trying its hardest to ensure that the players and fans alike can make the best out of the situation.”
To make up for the empty stadiums, Big Ten teams including Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State will also be selling cardboard cutouts. In addition to cutouts, fans can also join the Virtual Valley Experience to participate in game-day festivities from the safety of their home. Efforts to create any semblance of a traditional game-day continue as the beloved S-Zone will be adorned with a banner including all 2020 graduates’ names. This year’s seniors had the opportunity to have their names included as well.