Press Conference Transcript
Sept. 17, 2010
Statement from Penn State University President Graham Spanier
Today I have the honor of announcing a new turning point for Penn State, made possible by an unprecedented act of philanthropy. Terrence M. and Kim Pegula have committed the largest private gift in the University's history to fund a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose arena and help to establish an NCAA Division I men's hockey program-a total of $88 million in support.
The Pegulas' unparalleled generosity will make it possible for Penn State to serve our region and our student-athletes in exciting new ways. This arena-the only major rink within an 80-mile radius-will be an invaluable asset for children, youth, and families throughout central Pennsylvania, as well as for the University community, and it will be an engine for economic growth and development. Its two ice sheets will be used not only for Penn State's hockey and figure skating programs, but also for a broad range of community activities, including public skating sessions, camps for youth, high school hockey programs, and other recreational clubs and events. The arena, whose construction will be funded entirely through private giving, 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.
This gift will also open a new chapter in the history of Penn State sports. Tim Curley, our director of intercollegiate athletics, will share more about how the Pegulas' support will change the future of hockey at the University.
Statement from Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley
Thank you very much, President Spanier.
Good morning everyone! Thank you for joining us for this historic announcement on such short notice.
This is a banner day in the history of our great University, our athletic program, college hockey and our community.
As President Spanier stated, Terry and Kim Pegula have made a transformational gift that will positively impact the lives of so many. Penn State students, student-athletes, faculty, staff, alumni and the many wonderful communities throughout Central Pennsylvania will enjoy this gift for years to come. This gift will allow us to enhance the quality of the multiple programs that will be offered in a new, state-of-the-art, 5,000 to 6,000 seat arena. The new arena, which will be located just west of the Bryce Jordan Center and South of the Shields Building along University Drive, will continue our efforts to build world-class academic and athletic facilities that will attract the best and brightest to Happy Valley.
The Pegula gift is a "major game changer" and it will provide the momentum, excitement and vision for Penn State Ice Hockey to compete at the highest level nationally. Our expectation will be the same as our other 29 Varsity sports... to have first-class hockey programs that will compete successfully with honor at the conference and national levels.
It is our intention to elevate our club men's and women's hockey programs to Varsity status, beginning NCAA Division I competition for the 2012-13 hockey seasons. We intend to play an independent Division I schedule for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons and will practice and compete in the Greenberg Indoor Sports Complex. We will then enter conference play when the building opens for the 2014-15 season. We will work closely over the next year with our colleagues in the Big Ten Conference and the college hockey community to determine the appropriate conference affiliation for the future. We look forward to competing against the other five Big Ten Schools that sponsor Men's Ice Hockey. We look forward to helping to grow this exciting sport to new levels of visibility for our passionate and loyal alumni base of 500,000 plus throughout the country and the world.
The tremendous addition of the Big Ten Network will allow Penn State and the Big Ten to gain maximum television exposure and visibility for hockey fans throughout the Big Ten footprint and beyond.
We believe Penn State will be very successful and have a major impact in the hockey world. Pennsylvania enjoys great hockey with past Stanley Cup Champions - the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers; Calder Cup back-to-back Champions - the Hershey Bears; and many other successful professional hockey teams and fan bases throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Participation in youth and high school hockey ice hockey is at an all-time high and the number of new hockey rinks is ever expanding. We are excited the NCAA Frozen Four will be hosted in Pittsburgh in 2013 and Philadelphia in 2014, and the NHL 2011 Winter Classic will be held in Pittsburgh, which will bring great excitement and exposure to the Commonwealth.
Additionally, it is our intention to enhance our successful figure skating programs and be a national leader in the development of the top figure skaters in the nation. We look forward to hosting the top professional ice shows on an annual basis and to growing our student intramural and recreation ice activities.
The Pegula's, who live in Boca Raton, Florida, have been leaders in the oil and natural gas industry primarily in the Appalachian Basin. Terry was the founder, president, CEO and principal shareholder of East Resources, Inc, a privately-held independent exploration and development company based in Warrendale, PA, and acquired in July 2010 by Royal Dutch Shell. He earned his bachelor of science degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering from Penn State in 1973, started East Resources, Inc. in 1983 and built it into one of the largest privately held companies in the United States. Kim Pegula, a graduate of Houghton College, also has been involved with East Resources since 1991 and is a founder, along with her husband, of Black River Music Group, Nashville and Ayrault Sports Agency, Charlotte, NC
Terry and Kim ----- your gift has made the dreams of many come true. We look forward with great anticipation to the major transformational impact your generosity, vision, passion and support will mean to the Penn State Family for decades to come. I have thoroughly enjoyed our friendship and have great respect for you and your family. We deeply appreciate you sharing your successes and passion with us and are excited about the new journey we are about to embark on together.
Thank you for making us Penn State Proud and for the confidence you have bestowed on us to enhance the quality of life at Penn State.
Terry and Kim... please join the President and me as we would like to present you with a small token of our gratitude
Statement from Terry Pegula
This whole project started in late 2006. One evening I had dinner with the guy that brought the jerseys and sticks up on the stage, Joe Battista. Joe is our former 10-championship appearance and six-time champion club hockey coach. I said to Joe, "Why doesn't Penn State have a Division I hockey program?" Joe quickly began to inform me, of course Joe never does anything quickly (laughter), that money doesn't fall out of the sky from Harrisburg to schools like Penn State to do projects like this. He told that it would probably require a large gift, followed by subsequent gifts, for the building of a state-of-the-art arena. I said, "Well, Joe, how about I work with the athletic department and lets see what we can do. Maybe I can help you raise money for this thing."
So we had probably a half-dozen meetings. The next day, Tim Curley called me and we started our first meeting. I quickly determined that the gift that would be required to pull this thing off is substantially higher than I ever thought it was going to be. We are taught in Matthew 6, "do not lay treasures on earth, lay the treasures in heaven." And I thought, "Do I really want to contribute this much money to a hockey arena?"
Then I thought back to my days as a "rink-rat" when my young son went to learn to skate in youth hockey. I helped coach the hockey team. We built character in our players. Our players showed up to the games in their collared shirts and ties - they were nine and 10 years old. I think I got my answer. We had subsequent meetings with Tim and Rod (Kirsch). Then I got to meet Graham (Spanier). I must say that Graham is very passionate about this project. I was a little bit hesitant when I first met him. I didn't know what his attitude was going to be. I can say that not only does Graham make a good part-time Nittany Lion mascot and baton twirler and a resident camper at Paternoville, but he is a hell of a University President as well, and I thank him for all he does.
We brought the project forward in 2010 this year. I asked a friend of mine, Clint Benson, on the day he retired from Deloitte & Touche in Pittsburgh as a partner, I asked him if he had anything to do with his retirement. He was like, "You've got to be kidding me?" I said, "I live in Florida, I have an office in Denver, I have an office in Pennsylvania, I have an office in West Virginia, plus I spend half of my time chasing my 16-year old daughter around the country for her tennis tournaments. I need help or this thing will never get done." Cliff, very graciously, took the project under his wing.
We stand here today with ink on paper. I must say that I am very grateful to Graham, Tim, Rod, Joe and Cliff for all they have done to get this project going and getting it to this point. I might say that in closing, yesterday I went with Cliff to the Pittsburgh Penguins Summer Sticks charity golf outing. Cliff introduced me to everyone from Mario (Lemieux) down to the assistant coaches. I couldn't believe how excited these guys were about this project. I couldn't believe they even knew about it. "Is it going to happen? This is great for Penn State! I can't believe we are going to have a hockey program just northeast. We are excited about it!"
I was pretty excited about it. Then at the end of the golf outing, as he was signing his own jersey, a kid named Sidney Crosby shook my hand and said, "Mr. Pegula, this is a great thing you are doing for hockey," and I thought that was pretty cool (laughter). So I'm going to guess that someday in these hills of Pennsylvania, maybe we find a Pennsylvania Crosby. Maybe he learns to skate at our facility. Maybe he plays his youth hockey here. And maybe he plays Division I hockey at Penn State. And maybe his teammates will come from New England, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, the Midwest, and I think that's awesome. Thank you.
Questions and Answers
Q: You talked about being a "rink rat" in your early days. Can you share a story with us about your hockey memories and maybe how those memories brought you to where you are today?
A: I was an assistant coach at the youth and lower levels of hockey when my son was playing. I guess one of the things I learned about hockey players is that they are like a cult. The kids had to wear collared shirts and ties to the game. Have you ever been around a hockey locker room with those big hockey bags? These kids would take these shirts and stuff them up and throw them in their bags with the tie. They would roll them up in a ball. I still remember taking my son's hockey bag one day and finding like six shirts in there. You can only imagine what they smelled like.
Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley
Q: The one press release indicates that the arena will open in 2013. I think you said a different date. What is the timetable once again?
A: Right now the plan is to have the arena done in the spring of 2014, sometime in that January to April timeframe. It will definitely be ready for the 2014-15 season, with an outside shot for the second half of the 2013-14 season. We have yet to hire the architect to really find out for what the construction plan will exactly entail. Our hope is to get in as soon as possible.
Q: Can you clarify how many scholarships will be available for each team?
A: My understanding is on the men's side it will be 18 scholarships and on the women's side it is 20.
Q: Will there be a club team once the varsity team starts? Will the varsity team make some sort of reference to the great history to the history of the Icers for their 20-plus years of success?
A: Yes. We certainly want to celebrate to date the great history of our club program. We have a lot to be proud of and celebrate. We have a new arena and we will definitely want to celebrate our past achievements and look forward to the future. We will most certainly do that. As for your other question, we will be working through those issues over the next year. I think the tentative plan would be we would have club hockey if the interest is there. Maybe a lower club program than what we have now.
Q: What are you projecting as the operating costs for this team during the year? Like 3-4 million?
A: We've run all the numbers and we do have that. We can get it to you later. That sounds like that is about in the right zone. We benchmarked against all our colleagues in the Big Ten and some of the other national programs. We put a lot of time in looking into it. Like Terry mentioned, there has been a lot of work through the times. He had meetings to make sure we had a good hand on all of this. But if you need that I can get it later. I don't have the exact number right now.
Q: How far along are you guys in the process for searching a head coach? What type of person are you looking for?
A: Well, the first part of this process is the announcement today. Then we need to appoint an architect for the design of the facility. So that will be the attention that we give here immediately. Sometime in the next year we will address the coaching situation for both programs. At that time, we will be in a position to better address that. We think that our programs will have great coaching staffs and we are looking forward to getting into a position to have both programs having great leaders.
Q: Do you have a price tag yet for the cost of building the arena? Do you have a timeline for when the construction will begin?
A: As I said, very quickly we will be appointing an architect through the University's procedure that they have. We will be trying to get that firm on board as soon as possible. Then it will be determined at that time. Right now we are thinking the 5,000-6,000 seat range. We will have that number firmed up and the cost will be determined based on the footprint that we have. We are very confident. We had a number of our staff, including Terry, make visits to some of the other top facilities in the country. We plan on having the top-flight facility. So we will see what that cost will be. We do have some ideas heading into this selection process.
Q: What is the future of Greenberg Sports Complex? Is it not a certainty that the team will be in the Big Ten?
A: We will be practicing and competing in there for the next two years unless the building is done in the spring of 2014.
As far as the conference is concerned, next month we will be gathering with our Big Ten colleagues and we will be communicating with the rest of the hockey community. The five Big Ten schools are in two different ice hockey conferences, so we want to work with our colleagues and those two conferences to make sure we put together a plan that grows the sport of hockey and elevates it to new levels across the board. We haven't had time yet to have those discussions, but we fully intend to. Big Ten hockey is just outstanding right now, so we look forward to having great competition and bringing them to Happy Valley once we open up the new building.
Q: How hard is it going to be to build a program since most guys on the club team can't play Division I?
A: We think we can be very successful soon with our program. One of the reasons we are transitioning here is so we can allow the new coaching staff to go out and offer some scholarships the first couple of years. As we enter conference play, we should have a good nucleus to be competitive. That transition should help us. We think that Pennsylvania is a great state for hockey. I'm hoping to be competitive as soon as possible.
Q: There are a lot of people out there right now that think a Big Ten conference would be the beginning of the end for college hockey. What do you have to say to them if a Big Ten conference is born?
A: As I said earlier, our goal is to work with the hockey community. We continue to enhance the growth of the sport. We have not intentions of hurting any other conference or hurting college hockey. One of the reasons Terry was so passionate about this was not only to have Penn State hockey be best as possible, we want to make this a transformational gift that impacts all of North America hockey. So we are going to work with our colleagues. We are sensitive to it. We are going to communicate well and at the end of the day we are going to try to do what's best for everyone. We will communicate well with them and will make sure we make the best decisions moving forward.
Q: Only three of the Big Ten schools have a women's hockey program. How would that hinder making a Big Ten hockey conference?
A: Our thought process is there are a lot of eastern hockey conferences for women right now. We will look to probably join one of those conferences within the next year. We will look for the best conference to affiliate with and then certainly we will probably have competitions with our colleagues in the Big Ten.
Q: Will the Big Ten have any Title IX problems with a men's and women's conference?
A: I don't see that being an issue. There is good competition in the east with women's ice hockey.
Q: Does the arena have a formal name yet?
A: Right now we don't have a formal name. We are going to work with Terry and Kim probably in the next 3-6 months and get formal approval through the board process. We will announce it probably shortly as soon as we talk to the Pegulas.
Q: Is there an expectation that potential season ticket sales in hockey will be financially self-sustained?
A: I hope so. Based on the interest and the number of students that come here from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, they all have interest in hockey. Our whole community loves hockey. We feel that it will be a tough ticket to get, the revenue will be strong and financially we are going to be in a position where this can help the financial ledger. I can recall that we sat in Terry's kitchen across the street from my house and Terry said to me, "Another reason why I want to do this is to help you. I want to put you in a position where you have another revenue producer." This will give us 31 sports. It takes a lot of revenue to run those. I know that this can also help us financially and we intend on that to happen. We want all of you to buy your season tickets when we put them on the street and buy them quickly.