Terry Pegula’s “Transformational” Gift Brings Division I Ice Hockey To Penn State
Terry Pegula said he “thought long and hard” about whether donating a nearly nine-digit sum to help Penn State build an ice hockey arena was the right thing to do. When he finally decided on that massive gift — the largest private donation in University history — Pegula says, he did it because he saw it as a way to build much more than an arena.
As announced Friday, Pegula ’73 and his wife, Kim, are giving $88 million to fund the construction of a new ice hockey arena and the formation of men’s and women’s Division I hockey programs. Athletic Director Tim Curley ’76, ’78 MEd called the gift “transformational” and “a game changer” that would position Penn State as a national power in the sport (and indeed, the announcement rated front-page space Friday afternoon on ESPN.com). The gift also figures to generate jobs, provide the athletic department with a third revenue-producing sport, and make the University a regional hub for hockey and skating development.
Pegula made his fortune as founder of East Resources Inc., an oil and natural gas company that was recently sold to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion. A longtime hockey fanatic, Pegula said he decided to share some of his wealth with Penn State after a conversation with Joe Battista ’83, former coach of the Penn Stater Icers. “This started in late 2006, when Joe and I were having dinner, and I asked him, ‘Why doesn’t Penn State have varsity hockey?’ He informed me that money doesn’t fall from the sky.” Four years later, Pegula has done the next best thing.
Most of the details are still to be worked out, but here’s what we know about the arena and the team that will call it home. The facility will be built on campus between the Shields Building and Holuba Hall, across University Drive from the Bryce Jordan Center. An architect hasn’t yet been chosen, but a rough floor plan includes a main rink with seating for 5,000 to 6,000 and a second rink that will host camps, clinics, and public skating, among other events. Curley said he expects the arena to be completed by the spring of 2014, in time for the Penn State Nittany Lion hockey teams to begin play there that fall.
The teams themselves are expected to start skating in the 2012-13 season, when they’ll be housed at the Greenberg Sports Complex. Both teams will play as independents initially, with the expectation of conference play — either in a newly formed Big Ten hockey conference, or in an existing league — within two to three years. The men will have 18 available scholarships and the women will offer 20.
We’ll have much more on this story in our Nov/Dec issue, but for now, you can check out the official University release. There’s also plenty of interesting perspective on the Web, both from on campus and out of state:
-The Kalamazoo Gazette, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and AnnArbor.com offer interesting takes on how Penn State’s jump to Division I might impact the college hockey world, from possible conference realignment to its effect on some of the smaller but traditionally competitive hockey schools.
-Joe Battista, who arguably wore the biggest smile in the room Friday (as he often does), wrote about the emotional experience of finally seeing DI hockey in Happy Valley on StateCollege.com.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Entry filed under: Ice hockey, Penn State in the news, The Penn Stater magazine, University Park. Tags: Big Ten, East Resources, ESPN, Greenberg Sports Complex, Joe Battista, Kim Pegula, Penn Stater Icers, Royal Dutch Shell, Terry Pegula, Tim Curley.