Posts tagged ‘Kim Pegula’

A Sneak Peek at the Pegula Ice Arena

A panoramic view of the main rink. Photo by Tina Hay.

A panoramic view of the main rink. Photo by Tina Hay.

Back in October 2010, I visited Penn State to interview for this job. I’d never been to Happy Valley before, and the magazine’s class notes editor and ad manager, Julie Nelson ’86, was nice enough to give me the unofficial tour before I met the rest of the magazine staff.

Unfortunately, thanks to my pre-interview jitters, the tour was a confusing blur of buildings and street names (sorry, Julie). But I do remember Julie pointing out the future location of the Pegula Ice Arena. Back then the $88 million donation from Terry Pegula ’73 and wife Kim was the biggest news in town (ah, remember those days?), and I felt pretty cool later that evening when I could make small talk about the future venue with a waitress.

So, just over two years later, it was pretty surreal to find myself standing in the arena itself.

Some Alumni Association staffers, including Tina Hay ’83, Julie, and me, got a sneak peek at the construction site yesterday afternoon. Our tour guide: Joe Battista ’83, former Icer and current associate athletic director for Penn State hockey and the Pegula Ice Arena.

The arena is still an active construction site—visitors are required to wear hard hats, reflective vests, work gloves, and boots—but Battista paints such a vivid mental picture that, on the way out, it was hard to believe that all we really saw was drywall and metal.

Some highlights from the tour:

—The exterior of the building is mostly complete. With red brick and a wall of clear glass on the east side, the design is modern, says Battista, but similar to other campus buildings. “I compare it to a larger Rec Hall with glass,” he says.

—Inside, our first stop was the lobby, at the base of what will be the “grand staircase.” The area features three box offices, an HD video screen, white terrazzo floors, and a large wall graphic that reads Welcome to Hockey Valley.

—The main rink will seat 6,000; small by Big Ten standards, but the high-tech details and amenities more than compensate, says Battista. “There’s not a bad seat in this arena.”

—The student section seats 1,050, which is equivalent to the capacity of the entire Greenberg Ice Pavilion, Penn State hockey’s current home. The student bleachers, with room for the pep band in the center, are the steepest allowed by code. They’re located behind the north goal—the goal that the visiting team will be defending for two of the game’s three periods. “We want the opposing team’s goalie to feel right at home,” Battista says with a smile.

—Adding to the “homey” feel: the arena’s acoustics. At Terry Pegula’s request, the facility was designed with no acoustic softeners. In other words, says Battista, “it’s going to get loud.”

Our tour guide: Joe Battista '83. Photo by Tina Hay.

Our tour guide: Joe Battista ’83. Photo by Tina Hay.

—There are plenty of luxury suites and private boxes, some of them just 30 feet from the ice, so viewers feel like they’re part of the action. Suites will be equipped with HD TVs, where guests can watch replays of the game and order food via touchscreen. And as for the food, don’t expect “reheated chicken fingers,” says Battista. Several cafés, concession stands, and the on-site restaurant will all operate out of a full kitchen.

—The varsity teams’ locker room (there are 14 locker rooms total, including some for figure skating and community use) will be especially impressive. Separate men’s and women’s areas will feature hydrotherapy tubs, saunas, and private physical therapy rooms. In each individual locker, super hot blowers will dry damp gear and prevent bacterial growth.

—Just outside the locker rooms, players can lounge in a cozy space with couches, big-screen TVs, snack machines, and a ping-pong table—the sorts of amenities that make a difference in recruiting. There’s even a small enclosed area for “stick preparation”—and ceiling vents with suction to remove the leftover dust and debris. “We really tried to think of everything,” says Battista.

—We were all wowed by plans for a futuristic “synthetic shooting range.” A high-tech system called RapidShot will allow players to assess their shot speed and accuracy, and compare themselves to other players worldwide.

—A smaller community rink with 300-seat capacity is designed for lessons and public use. A cyber café with free wifi (and possibly a fireplace) will overlook the rink, so parents can work while kids practice or play.

Battista says construction is on track for a September opening of the Pegula Ice Arena. The first Penn State varsity hockey game is scheduled for early October.

To see more photos from the tour, check out Tina’s pics on our Facebook page, or take your own virtual tour on YouTube.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

February 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm 3 comments

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.

-How big is this news nationally? ESPN and The New York Times weigh in.

-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

September 17, 2010 at 11:57 pm 4 comments


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