There aren’t a lot of people on Penn State’s payroll who remember the earliest days of the Joe Paterno years, before the football program became a tradition and the late coach became a legend.
Bud Meredith is one of those people, but he won’t be on the payroll for long.
On Thursday, Meredith was keeping meetings with human resources, taking care of those last pieces of paperwork that come with signing off after a 50-year career with the university. Meredith is retiring as director of ticketing operations.
Meredith, a State College Area High School grad, signed his first university paycheck in 1965 after getting a business degree from Penn State in 1964. But since 1967, he has been part of Intercollegiate Athletics, where he helped steer how people made it to games as the stadium more than doubled in size.
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When he first started working with ticketing, back in the days before computers, Internet and e-tickets, Beaver Stadium had a capacity of just 46,284. Attendance averaged about 40,000. It was Paterno’s second year as head coach.
“When I got here, one of the first things I did was go to (the Office of Physical Plant) and have an architect draw up grids,” he said.
All of those thousands of seats were represented. The giant paper charts hung around the ticketing office, and Meredith and the staff would hand write which seats were assigned to which season-ticket holder. There were about nine people in the office, just as there are today.
Seven renovations later, the stadium can hold a raucous capacity crowd of more than 106,572.
“I say that every time we added another seat, I lost another hair,” Meredith said.
But really, he says, the extra 60,000 or so seats worth of work are made easier by technology. The first computers were used in the process after the 1978 expansion that jacked the stadium up several feet and added 16,000 seats.
Two years later, ticketing was moved out of Rec Hall and “temporarily” housed in a double-wide trailer by the stadium.
“We were there for 15 years,” Meredith said. “We ran all of the game-day stuff out of the windows.”
Operations have since moved to the Bryce Jordan Center.
“Bud has been an inspirational mentor to me since I joined Penn State Athletics,” said Jeff Garner, assistant athletic director, ticketing sales and service. “His passion and dedication to our student-athletes, our fans and our staff is a fantastic model as we move forward into a new chapter of ticketing sales, operations and service. ... His passion for Penn State doesn’t end with his retirement. In fact, I expect him to be one of our most frequent customers. I can’t thank him enough for his guidance and leadership during my comparatively short time in athletics.”
Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said Meredith has been on the front lines for all of the many changes at Penn State through the years, always prioritizing customer service and helping “our passionate fans in a first-class manner.”
“We are most appreciative to Bud for his dedication, contributions to Penn State and his role in helping Intercollegiate Athletics grow and prosper,” she said. “Bud cares deeply about this community and the university and is a great example of someone who represents the pride, work ethic and values that Penn Staters hold dear. We wish Bud all the best for a healthy and enjoyable retirement.”
He intends to spend that retirement “just enjoying life,” playing golf and sitting in the stands to watch Penn State events.
His favorite parts of the job over the years were interacting with players and fans. As the system has grown and changed, he has had less contact with both.
“I miss it,” Meredith said. He says the same about his retirement.
“I’ll miss the people I worked with, the great administration,” he said. “It’s been great going.”