By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The ice has been laid
down, the teams are moved in and the excitement surrounding Penn State's new
hockey arena has never been more palpable.
In just 17 days the Penn State men's ice hockey team will start a new era in their new home, Pegula Ice Arena.
While the construction started in February of 2012, the goal to build a state of the art hockey facility dates back to the 1970s and became a reality a little over three years ago.
In September 2010, Terry and Kim Pegula made an incredible $88 million donation to the Penn State hockey program. It was the largest private donation in Penn State's history.
That year, a group of administrators, coaches and contractors, who proudly refer to themselves as 'Team Pegula', started to outline what the new arena would look like.
A 200,000 square-foot building with 6,000 seats for hockey fans. including 1,000 seats for the students.
It would require 34,000,000 pounds of concrete, 26 miles of piping and 450,000 hours of construction. It would take an additional $14 million from the Pegulas, 1,600 tons of steel and 1,500 people working nearly around the clock.
But it got done.
And just in time for what is sure to be one of the most exciting seasons in Penn State hockey history.
As Associate Athletic Director Joe Battista sat down to meet with the media Wednesday morning and you could see it was all worth the wait.
"This building is going to be one of the premiere college hockey facilities in North America," said Battista. "We have tried our best to learn from as many other college programs and other professional facilities throughout the country that we visited. We had the advantage of being able to take a look at what they had and take their best practices and put it into play here with the vision that Terry and Kim Pegula gave us, which was to build a state-ofthe-art-facility with all of the technical amenities.
"Last but not least [the Pegulas] asked us to make it a gift to the community. This building is not just about two varsity hockey teams but is a facility that is to serve all of central Pennsylvania, the state and region."
The arena comes fully loaded for players and fans. For the fans, there are 16 suites, including two opera suites.
As Battista put it: there isn't a bad seat in the house.
The student section is directly behind the away goaltender for two out of the three periods. The arena was built with a metal top to make it louder, a clear advantage for the Nittany Lions.
When a fan enters Pegula Ica Arena from University Drive they are greeted with televisions and an outstanding view of the rink. On the televisions they can view Penn State's hockey history and get updated on what the team is doing now. All throughout the halls you can find pieces of hockey history and pictures of great Penn State moments.
The stadium also has an interactive screen where fans can search and learn about the different decades, coaches and players in the program.
The arena was designed to be fan friendly and give an inside look at the hockey program.
For the players, the equipment they have access to is also top of the line. Pegula Ica Arena comes stacked with a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy room, athletic training room, synthetic ice room, stick room, film room and a comfortable lounge to relax while they're in the arena.
The Nittany Lions will undoubtedly boast one of the top-tier arenas in all of hockey.
"On behalf of a lot of other people who have dreamed this dream, I couldn't be more thrilled that it's happened and couldn't be happier with the facility," Battista said. "It is magnificent and when you see the looks on the men's and women's players faces as we did when we moved in here on September 9, it made it all worth it"
Pegula Ice Arena has already given a home to hockey hungry Happy Valley. Just ask Penn State students like Alex Trier and Tyler Loomis.
Loomis and Trier were part of the nearly 1,000 students who lined up for a chance to buy student tickets.
"Buying tickets was awesome," Loomis said. "The coaches, the players, everyone was so pumped.
"Look at [Pegula Ice Arena]. Every time I drive by, I'm just like 'wow.'"
Both seniors have been avid supporters of the hockey program since their arrival on campus. They understand what the new arena means for the team, but also what it means for the community.
"I think [the community] loves it. Not just Penn State, but State College because how many things are going to come to State College," Trier said. "Everyone really loves it."
The Penn State and State College communities have kept a watchful eye on the building as it's progressed over these last few years. Watching the arena come together was one of the highlights for the student body. When asked about the design of the arena, Trier and Loomis couldn't hold back.
"Immaculate. It's built perfectly. You can tell that a lot of thought was put into this building. From the ceiling, to the hallways, the way everything is laid out. It's sharp." Said Loomis.
"Pegula is the spot to be. Everyone wants to be part of the new rink and just the fact that having this building is going to mean something great to the community," Trier said.
The arena will not only be home to the Penn State hockey teams, but it will also serve several other purposes, according to Battista. It will host commencements, receptions and tailgates. In the summer a sport-court will be laid down for one or two weeks for basketball camp and Happy Volley.
Battista also hinted at NHL rookie exhibition matches taking place there, as well as several figure skating competitions.
Pegula Ice Arena officially opens its doors for hockey on Oct. 11, when the men's program welcomes Army for a 7 p.m. contest.