Posts tagged ‘Pegula Ice Arena’

Joe Battista Leaves Penn State to ‘Dream New Dreams’

DSC_8939_Joe_BattistaNow that Penn State has both men’s and women’s varsity ice hockey teams and a spectacular new hockey arena, it’s hard to remember a time not long ago when it all was just a pipe dream.

Until September 2010, when Penn State announced that historic gift of $88 million from Kim and Terry Pegula ’73, ice hockey was a club sport, and it was played on a rink that had audience seating on one side only. (The folklore is that there simply hadn’t been enough money to build a facility with grandstands on both sides.) And while the Icers, under head coach Joe Battista ’83, were among the finest club teams in the country—winning six national club championships—the idea of upgrading to varsity status was just out of the question. Too expensive.

And then, maybe five years ago, in part because of a relationship formed between Battista and Pegula, rumors started swirling that the Icers’ dream might actually come true. Our senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 tells the tale of how the dream finally did come true in the cover story of our Sept./Oct. issue.

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Battista as an Icer in the early ’80s.

I have a clear memory of waiting to cross College Avenue over lunch hour one day a few years back and seeing Joe (who by then was a fundraiser for Penn State) stopped at the stoplight. He rolled down the window, we exchanged hellos, and I said, offhandedly, “What are you up to these days?” And he replied with a big grin, “I’m trying to get us a hockey arena!”

Today, less than three weeks after the opening of the 6,000-seat Pegula Ice Arena, Penn State announced that Battista—who came here as a freshman in 1978 and, except for a four-year stint after his graduation in 1983, has been associated with Penn State ever since—is leaving the university. Effective Nov. 8, he’ll step down from his current role as associate athletic director for the Pegula Ice Arena and hockey development in order to go work for Pegula’s company, East Management Services, as its vice president of hockey related businesses. (Pegula owns the Buffalo Sabres and is also developing two public rinks in Buffalo, among other hockey ventures.)

In the news release today, Battista talked about the Pegula Arena and the launching of men’s and women’s ice hockey as the culmination of a dream for him. “While this dream has come true,” he said, “it is now time for me to set new goals and dream new dreams.”

Speaking on behalf of his wife, Heidi, and himself, he added: “We will continue to proudly support Penn State and wear the blue and white forever.”

Tina Hay, editor

October 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

Hockey at the Pegula: Oh What a Night

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The amazing thing about Penn State’s first-ever Division 1 hockey game in the brand-new Pegula Ice Arena was how it felt so amazing and yet, at the same time, perfectly normal.

From the cars jamming University Drive, to the thousands of people streaming into the arena, to the roars of the crowd, to the rowdy student section pounding on the glass after every goal … somehow it all felt as if Penn State had been playing big-time hockey in a 6,000-seat arena forever. As if hockey just belongs here.

And the Nittany Lions made sure they opened the new era with a win, defeating Army 4-1.

I got to the arena about 45 minutes before the game and spent some time just wandering around with my camera to see what I could see—and to try to figure out where everything was. I happened to be on the top level just as they were getting underway; here’s a short video clip I shot with my iPhone of the Penn State players taking the ice:

Someone clearly put a lot of thought and time into the whole game-day experience—the videos, the lights, the music, even the ads on the light boards ringing the arena. And they did a terrific job. Here again, it was as if big exuberant hockey extravaganzas are just what we do around here.

Below are some photos I took throughout the evening of the action on—and off—the ice.

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I have a feeling that Penn Staters will be enjoying this new arena—and the student-athletes who compete in it—for many years to come.

Tina Hay, editor

October 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Oct. 2, 2013

From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.

A sellout, in the good sense: If you don’t have tickets for the Nittany Lions’ Homecoming clash Oct. 12 against Michigan, well, you’re out of luck. Penn State announced Tuesday morning that the game is officially sold out.

Opener in jeopardy? The government shutdown has forced the service academies to suspend their varsity sports programs, so if the Congressional impasse continues, the first game for the men’s team in the Pegula Ice Arena, Oct. 11 vs. Army, may be canceled or postponed. The problem: The government funds travel for academy sports teams, so without a budget, they can’t travel.

Employee health-care update: The Centre Daily Times has the latest update on the health-care saga on campus: Anyone who completes the personal health screening, a requirement that rankled many faculty and staff, will receive a $100 bonus. If an employee and the employee’s spouse both complete the screening, the bonus rises to $150.

Inspirational words: I spent Tuesday evening with my news writing class listening to New York Times managing editor (that’s second in command) Dean Baquet speak at the first session of the Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers, one of the great programs sponsored by the College of Communications. Baquet was particularly inspirational; as I told a student who interviewed me after the speech, if you didn’t want to run out and commit great acts of journalism after that talk, you’re in the wrong major. I’d like to share one piece of Baquet’s advice that applies to everyone, no matter your major, profession, or age: “Take the job that will teach you something you don’t know.”

Lori Shontz, senior editor

October 2, 2013 at 10:08 am Leave a comment

Hockey Draws a (Media) Crowd

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Forward Taylor Holstrom (left), goalie Matthew Skoff (middle), and defenseman Nate Jensen were among the Penn State hockey players who met with the news media today.

The talk was all about the new arena and the new Big Ten ice hockey conference as Penn State men’s coach Guy Gadowsky and six of his players met with the news media today, 11 days before the start of the season.

About 40 reporters crowded into the media room at the brand-new Pegula Ice Arena this afternoon; that’s probably more than will show up game in and game out, but still, it was an impressive turnout. Here are a few notes from the media session:

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Men’s head coach Guy Gadowsky

—Gadowsky says the new arena has raised Penn State’s visibility as he and his coaches recruit throughout the country and in Canada: “We’ve received as much excitement outside State College as in State College, even across the border.”

—He promises an aggressive, crowd-pleasing style of play: “I think we play a fun, exciting brand of hockey: Go hard to the net, put shots on goal. That will excite our fans.”

—NCAA rules prescribe a very short period of official practices before the season starts. The team has been having “captain’s practices,” but the coach-run practices won’t start until this Friday, Oct. 4—and the season starts just a week later. (Gadowsky says he doesn’t know a hockey coach in America who wouldn’t like to see that rule changed.)

—Three players are fighting it out for the role of goalkeeper: junior PJ Musico, sophomore Matthew Skoff, and freshman Eamon McAdam. “The goalies are just thrilled to work together,” Skoff says, “and we feed off each other.” If Gadowsky has any inkling as to which one will get the nod, he isn’t saying.

—The team, understandably, is very happy to be in the new Pegula Arena. “We’re very fortunate, very spoiled,” says Skoff. One of his favorite parts is the student section, which is directly behind the visiting team’s goalie. Says Skoff: “I feel bad for the opposing goaltender coming in here.”

—Penn State hockey is only in its second year as a varsity sport; it obviously doesn’t have the same tradition as teams like Michigan and Minnesota. But the Nittany Lions are hoping to surprise some people this year. According to defenseman Nate Jensen, “We like the underdog role.”

Tina Hay, editor

September 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Sept. 26, 2013

From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.

Icebreaker: When I toured the Pegula Ice Arena back in February, Joe Battista ’83 painted an amazingly vivid picture of all the amenities (a synthetic practice rink! skate-repair rooms! Subway!) that had yet to be built. So checking out this slideshow, posted yesterday on pennlive.com, felt a little like deja vu. So cool to see it all come together.

Sorry, sunbathers: Construction on the HUB-Robeson Center is in full swing, and the bookstore is…on the lawn. While the Barnes and Noble-operated bookstore is undergoing renovations, 28 trailers on the HUB lawn will serve as the temporary location until July, giving former sunbathers and frisbee-lovers plenty of time to catch up on their reading.

Book talk: Speaking of books, two new titles from Penn Staters are making news. Chip Kidd’s latest, Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, is an intro to graphic design for kidds kids. “I was out of my comfort zone,” Kidd ’86 tells Wired mag in this Q&A. “but it helped me to rethink everything about graphic design again—never a bad thing.” Also, Penn State Harrisburg prof John Haddad‘s new book, America’s First Adventure in China, explores the origins of America’s relationship with China. Haddad researched the book during his Fulbright grant experience in China in 2010-11, where he taught American studies, pop culture and literature at the University of Hong Kong.

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Sunrise, sunset: Mount Nittany (@MtNittany) has been sharing some fantastic photos on Twitter lately, like this lovely sunrise, taken by meteorology student Dakota Smith (@weatherdak). Almost makes you want to wake up early and see it in person, doesn’t it? Almost.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

September 26, 2013 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

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

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