Pegula Ice Arena: A First-Class Facility in the Making
March 2, 2011
By Alyssa Guttendorf, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
"We're just at a really exciting time. It's out there, and the energy is building," he said of the development of Pegula Ice Arena.
Battista, a longtime Penn State Athletics and University Development employee, has assumed a pivotal role with Penn State as the Associate Athletic Director for Ice Arena Operations and the Director of the Ice Arena and Hockey Campaign.
Battista was instrumental in facilitating the largest private gift in Penn State's history, an $88 million donation for the planned ice facility and Division I men's ice hockey team, which came through the generosity of Terry and Kim Pegula and was announced in mid-September of 2010. The donation was granted with the intention of funding the arena as well as establish an NCAA Division I men's and women's hockey program. The two teams are slated to begin competition as an independent in the 2012-13 season in the Pavilion Ice Arena.
The arena was officially approved as the "Pegula Ice Arena" after donors Terrence M. and Kim Pegula on Jan. 21, and design development is in the works.
Exciting ideas for the arena's inner layout are already underway, including a center hung scoreboard with HD video capabilities, a dedicated student area, club seats, opera seats and suites. Plans also call for up to three different gathering areas for both game nights and for special meetings on non-event days.
Battista stresses how Pegula Ice Arena is going to be an exciting venue, not just from an athletic perspective, but from an entertainment aspect as well.
"One of the visions that Terry and Kim Pegula have is that they want this building to be loud, raucous, electric," said Battista. "They want it to be imposing for the other teams that come in here. They also want to be able to take the best of our college traditions and atmosphere and serve up some of the amenities that you can find at a professional event."
While design plans for the arena are still being drafted, one aspect of the plans is certain.
"We're going to try to design it to be flexible. We'll be able to adapt to the changing needs of the fans," Battista said.
With accommodations for 5,000 to 6,000 spectators and the various support facilities required for a state-of-the-art venue, Pegula Ice Arena will be the only major rink within an 80-mile radius and will be on par with the best collegiate facilities in the country. It will include two ice sheets and other features that will allow it to be used for a broad range of campus and community activities, from commencement ceremonies to kinesiology classes to public skating sessions and camps.
The facility will provide new training and performance opportunities for Penn State's figure skating club and for the University's women's ice hockey team, which will also transition from club to varsity status. The arena also will offer ice time to recreational and high school hockey programs, as well as intramural and local speed skating and broomball clubs. The arena will be able to host events such as professional ice shows and National Hockey League and American Hockey League exhibition games, generating tourism and other economic impacts in the region.
"Having two rinks will allow more activities to take place, such as public skate sessions, figure skating competitions, youth hockey, college hockey... the possibilities are endless," said Battista.
But, excitement aside, the Pegula Ice Arena has a deadline to meet.
"We know that we have to be open for our first puck drop: September of 2013," Battista said.
Construction, slated to begin in January of 2012, allows for approximately 21 months of construction. Thus far, the arena's construction progress includes a vast array of schematics and mock-ups, but the careful planning behind the designs are evident.
The arena, which will be built near the corner of University Drive and Curtin Road across from the Bryce Jordan Center, offers close proximity to the heart of campus and major residence hall complexes.
"For the students, it's right there," Battista said. "We couldn't have asked for a better spot for on-campus students."
However, since Pegula Arena will be constructed near other high-traffic sporting venues such as Beaver Stadium, the Bryce Jordan Center, Jeffrey Field, and the tennis, field hockey and lacrosse facilities, one of the primary issues surrounding the development of the arena is parking.
"The biggest challenge we're going to have, quite frankly, is parking," said Battista.
"Parking becomes an issue, but we will have a transportation plan in place in the rare cases where there are too many events. There's a parking and transportation study being done right now, because we know that it's critical."
Battista is more than aware of the necessary keys to creating a top-notch collegiate sports venue.
"Anybody in the sports business knows that fans want three things: they want great sight lines and view of the action. They want parking that is approximate. And they want amenities - good food, enough bathrooms, scoreboards that have replay and stats."
With all these developments in the works, Pegula Ice Arena will require a good deal more fundraising to achieve all of its expectations.
"We still have a lot of money to raise," Battista said. "People think we don't need any more money, but that's not true."
"This whole project includes building the arena, endowing all the scholarships, and having an endowment in place to pay coaches' salaries, arena staff, administrative salaries, and having enough money for the deferred maintenance fund."
While there is still a lot of fundraising and finalizing to be done, the excitement surrounding the program's development is undeniable.
"We're at a very exciting time. We're getting to the point where we have a better idea of what this is going to look like and where it's going to go, and all the challenges with the lay out," said Battista.
"We're developing options for everybody. That's what's so cool about this. I think the most fun part of this is we got handed this lump of clay, and we get to mold it the way we want to. There'll be all the kinds of things that go into making this a first-class facility."
And with the planning that is currently underway, it's clear that we should expect nothing less.