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Update: Construction of Pegula Ice Arena on Schedule

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By Pat White, Sean Flanery, Student Staff Writers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As players and fans alike anticipate the inaugural seasons of Nittany Lion hockey, the steel structure is beginning to take shape in preparation for the fall 2013 opening of Pegula Ice Arena, the future home of Penn State Hockey.


Pegula Ice Arena will house both the men's and women's NCAA Division I hockey programs in the 2013-14 season. Current Buffalo Sabres' owner and Penn State alumnus, Terry and wife Kim Pegula, donated $102 million to fund the birth of NCAA hockey in Happy Valley.

Joe Battista, the associate athletic director of the ice arena and hockey development, along with others, traveled to other collegiate hockey facilities across the country to piece together a brand new design for the arena. Minnesota Duluth and Notre Dame were the two main modern arenas that influenced the design of Penn State's new facility. Battista said that while they wanted a modern design, they also wanted an old-fashioned feel.

"We also looked at the traditional hockey barns," Battista said. "Michigan, Boston College, Yale, Michigan State, and we tried to get a good sampling."

Construction of the new arena began beside Holuba Hall, where the former outdoor intramural tennis courts and lacrosse field were located.  The construction crew began clearing the site on Jan. 23, and began excavation in the spring of 2012.

Pegula Ice Arena's Project Manager, Steve Laurila, said that time went very quickly in the seven-month process from an old lacrosse field to what is now almost half of the structure.

"[During the] first week of June, we had enough concrete out of the way to start steel erection," Laurila said. "So essentially, we had [some] of the structure up."

However, there was one minor setback in the beginning stages of laying the concrete foundation.

"The biggest hiccup we had was unforeseen rock conditions on the site," Laurila said. "There were supposed to be rocks that we could pour concrete footings on and as we dug down to low-grade elevation we found out the rock wasn't there."

Despite the one-month foundational setback, the crew was still able to begin erecting the steel structure only one week behind schedule. According to Laurila, that was a crucial part of staying on schedule.

"The goal was getting the steel started," said Laurila. "The steel started about a week later than we wanted it to, but it wasn't a month like the concrete foundations. That essentially got us back on track which led to the elevated decks, and that leads to the interior work being where it is now...We had to work overtime, some seven days a week, six days a week, 10-hour days. That's how we got the steel started."

By the end of September, fans can expect to see the beginning of the brickwork and the erection of steel trusses to support the roof.  What they may not be able to see is the progress being made within the interior of the arena.

"You will really start to see the shapes of the roof take place," Laurila said. "Right now the inside of the building, we are starting to build a lot of the walls, the mechanical piping ventilation, duct work is starting to go in in the event level...Within the next week, you'll start to see the makings of the seating."

Battista said that Pegula Ice Arena will have a few features that fans are sure to enjoy. The student-section seating was designed at the steepest angle allowed by building code and the stadium will promote a loud atmosphere, as they don't plan on installing noise reduction panels. Battista reiterated that one of the many things Pegula wanted for the new facility was for it to be the loudest arena in college hockey.

"It's going to be loud right behind the visiting team goalie for two out of three periods," Battista said of the student section. "In the words of men's head coach Guy Gadowsky 'the loudest, rockingest arena in college hockey.'"

At the current pace, the crew expects the arena to be fully enclosed in the beginning months of 2013. Laurila said that having the structure dry during the winter is critical so that interior work such as plumbing, drywall and ductwork can begin. The goal is by next spring to have a fully enclosed arena complete with side panels around the building.

Right now the construction crew is taking the process one step at a time and remaining optimistic about finishing on time.

"You always have to manage the schedule," Laurila said. "You always have to be concerned because there are always ups and downs, but the goal is keeping the trades that have to come next on schedule. So far we have done that. There are no concerns in being done in a year."

The crew expects the Pegula Ice Arena to be completed by Sept. 5, 2013, just in time for the second year of Penn State hockey.

The Nittany Lion men's squad opens this season at home against American International on Oct. 12. The women's season opener will be Oct. 6 on the road against Vermont.

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