When the Big Ten reinstated its fall football season back on Sept. 16, it immediately declared that no school would be allowed to sell public tickets on game day.

That said, there was always a hope that stadiums would at least be allowed to host family members of players and coaches, and with Week 1 now sitting just two weeks and change away, it looks like that will become a reality.

It’s especially true at Penn State after Pa. officials modified their gathering limits related to coronavirus mitigation practices earlier this week. The new ruling means that a venue’s capacity will determine how many people are allowed at indoor and outdoor events. Previously, only 25 people were allowed at the former and 250 at the latter.

Based on the updated guidance, Beaver Stadium will be able to welcome up to 7,500 people for the Lions’ four home games, starting with the Ohio State game on Halloween weekend. That number includes players, staff, referees, and so on, but still should allow for plenty of room for relatives to come and create something of a home-field advantage, albeit far from the one Penn State typically enjoys when playing in front of a packed house.

More: Pa. changes coronavirus gathering limitations; what’s it mean for sports, events, and more?

“From day one here at Penn State, with myself and [Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics] Sandy Barbour, that’s been our priority: How can we take care of our parents? I tried to look at a bunch of different creative ways to get that done,” head coach James Franklin said during a video news conference with reporters following practice on Wednesday.

“So, we’re excited about that, and then all the rest of the stuff is kind of outside of our control.”

Tailgating will still not be allowed, and fans cannot line up around the field to make noise from outside of the closed gates. That means, during a year in which so many things have happened for the first time, Beaver Stadium will sound unlike anything anyone has ever experienced during a game day there.

No matter, there will still be some real people filling up the bleachers and of course some photos of them, too, as the school is selling cutouts starting at $85 a pop. There is sure to be some kind of electronic crowd noise, music, and/or Blue Band presence, as well.

Franklin went on to say that he hopes the steps that must be taken to help slow the spread of COVID-19 during a global health crisis also help bring a reality check to some, too.

More: Penn State football launches virtual fan initiatives, including in-stadium cutouts and more

“I’m hoping that our players, two things; Number one, that we get back to that special time when the game was just so pure,” Franklin said. “We just played it for the love of the game, and not about the fans, and not about any of those other things, and then I think there’s also that part that we’re so blessed to be at Penn State and play in front of 107,000 fans.

“I don’t think anybody takes it for granted but if you did, I think this is kind of a wake-up call to all of us to not take what we have here in Happy Valley and at Penn State for granted.”

Penn State travels to Indiana for this year’s opener on Oct. 24. A kickoff time has not yet been announced.


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