CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — One of Happy Valley’s most anticipated weekends, Penn State Football’s White Out, paired with ESPN’s College GameDay, surpassed expectations for the tourism marketing organization, The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau.
“The optics are, it was a record weekend,” said Dave Gerdes, vice president of sales and marketing for The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. “Everybody benefited. It’s kind of what we’ve been waiting for.”
109,959 fans filled Beaver Stadium on Saturday, making it one of the top 10 largest crowds in stadium history. Gerdes said a few factors led to the high attendance.
“It was a September game, it was a SEC foe, and we waited almost two years for this,” said Gerdes.
Gerdes said the Adventure Bureau has been promoting Penn State Football since the summer.
“We were fortunate to get some money from our County Commissioners and we were kind of targeting football season to let it kind of go organically and promote up to that point,” said Gerdes.
He said he suspects sold out hotels broke records as well, and said he will have those statistics by Wednesday morning.
“I would be shocked if it’s not one of the best, probably the best football weekend we’ve had from a hotel perspective,” said Gerdes.
After the game, Gerdes said he heard planes leaving the University Park Airport about every 10 minutes until 2 a.m.
“It’s our understanding that they were expecting record numbers out of the airport,” said Gerdes. “We understand there were a lot of private planes out there.”
The weekend is regarded by analysts as a college sports spectacle and a bucket list item. Locally, it’s an economic driver and simply tradition.
“It’s what makes Happy Valley so special,” said Gerdes.