Pegula Ice Arena Becoming a Reality
April 27, 2012
By Chardonnai Johnson, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
At a ceremony last Friday, April 20, the Pegulas officially broke ground on the arena that will bear their name, finally letting their dreams take shape.
"It's just a very special day," said Terry Pegula. "It's really just great to see the progress of it all."
The Pegulas' donation sprouted out of Terry Pegula's own lifelong love for hockey and his alma mater. He graduated from the university in 1973 with a degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering. Pegula's love for hockey runs so deep that even owns an NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres.
"I love hockey," said Pegula. "And I've mentioned publicly the conversations with Joe [Battista] I had about why Penn State has no D-I program. One thing led to another and that's why we're here today."
Joining the Pegulas in the groundbreaking was Penn State President Rodney Erickson, hockey coaches Josh Brandwene and Guy Gadowsky, Acting Athletic Director David Joyner, and Associate Athletic Director for hockey development Joe Battista. The ceremony marked another major milestone in the journey towards a new arena and Division I hockey in Happy Valley.
"This has been talked about since the early 70s," said Battista. "Only because of the generosity of Terry and Kim Pegula are we all here today to celebrate this next step in Division I hockey."
More than 13 formal proposals to start men's and women's varsity programs were given to Penn State before the Pegula gift.
The Greenberg Ice Pavilion, the current arena for the hockey teams, was originally conceived to host varsity programs but had to be re-imagined after budget concerns.
The Pegulas' original donation of $88 million was upped to a whopping $102 million after the cost estimates were predicted to be higher than they had anticipated.
Their generosity made their donation the largest private gift in Penn State history and also the fourth largest gift from a private individual to an institution in the past three years.
"The Pegula gift is so significant," said Joyner. "We obviously needed the funding to be able to develop an appropriate facility to do this. This is a great day for Penn State Athletics and Penn State Hockey."
Construction on the arena, located near the corner of University Drive and Curtin Road across from the Bryce Jordan Center, began in early February of this year.
For the 2013-2014 season, the men's team will join the Big Ten while the women's team starts their second year as College Hockey America members.
With the construction on the Pegula Ice Arena scheduled to wrap up in the fall of 2013, both of the teams' 2013-2014 season will coincide with its official opening.
Many of the officials and coaches who played a part in its development are surprised by the amount of progress being made so quickly.
"It's a reality," said Coach Gadowsky. "It's becoming a reality and the excitement just builds every time you see something new happening with the construction."
Coach Brandwene is also thrilled about the progress and shares the same level of excitement as his athletes.
"It kind of came in for a landing this morning," said Coach Brandwene. "In terms of where we were and where we're going. This is going to be the crown jewel of college hockey."
The new arena will feature two ice surfaces: a main rink for Penn State's varsity hockey programs and a community rink. The main arena will feature 6,000 seats, including a 1,000-seat student section.
There will also be a 5,000 square foot weight room, steam room, team lounge, hydrotherapy training center, and locker rooms.
With the ceremonial dig now behind them, the Pegulas dream for a better arena for hockey players and hockey fans alike is now becoming a tangible thing.
"I honestly didn't think that we'd be at this stage yet," said Pegula. "Now we're here today and it's rather interesting how exciting it is to be moving Penn State into D-I land."