Notes From Media Day
August 17, 2011 – | No Comment

Before I begin, I should probably explain why we haven’t posted in a while. Frankly, it’s just been bad timing. I just got back from a study abroad program in Europe, and Charlie is still …

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Varsity Hockey: Coming to an Arena Near You

Submitted by on August 6, 20108 Comments

Well, only if you live in the State College area. But, yeah, Penn State’s probably getting a D-1 hockey team.

In the fall of 2008, Penn State hired a Kansas City-based firm to design a potential new rink, which would hold 6000 fans and, more importantly, allow Penn State’s hockey programs to make the jump to the NCAA level.  Right now, Penn State’s Icers compete at the club ACHA level–which they’ve dominated, winning 6 ACHA championships and finishing as the national runners-up 7 more times in the 21 year history of the program.  But the economic climate made a donation campaign large enough to finance it unlikely, and so construction on a new rink seemed even unlikelier.

But that’s where Terry Pegula comes in.  A Penn State alum, and noted hockey devotee, Pegula just came into some money.  Some 4.7 billion dollars, that is, after selling his natural gas company to Royal Dutch Shell.  And now the rumblings are that Pegula will put up the $60-to-$80 million needed to finance what will almost assuredly be called the Pegula Pavilion. Or the Pegula Center. Pegula Arena?

Cory Giger’s got the story at the Altoona Mirror:

“We’re close,” a source close to the situation told the Mirror on Thursday. “It won’t be long before we’ll be able to potentially make some kind of announcement. But it’s not a done deal yet.”

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity, and when asked to define what “close” means said, “probably within the next two months” the wheels will be set in motion.

“We do have a donor that’s got the capacity to do this, but there is no agreement yet,” the Mirror’s source said.

The Mirror has learned that, in the past few weeks, Pegula and Penn State athletic director Tim Curley visited the University of Minnesota hockey facility and went to Notre Dame to examine the new arena being built there.

Pegula also was seen in Chicago earlier this week at Big Ten football media days, along with Joe Battista, director of major gifts at PSU and former hockey coach at the school. Their exact business there isn’t known, but they would not have needed to be there in any official football capacity.

There’s always some hesitation to accept anonymous reports, but this one seems pretty legit.  Throw in the constant rumblings that the Big Ten Network (or even Versus) would love to broadcast hockey games–providing a further opportunity to monetize, or potentially in part subsidize the operating costs–I think I’ll be the first to publicly thank Terry Pegula.

Count me among the most excited to see Penn State hockey playing at the highest level possible, and against our real rivals.  What sounds better, being the last link needed to form a Big Ten hockey league, and playing Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan, or staying in the ACHA and beating up on West Chester, Robert Morris, and Scranton?  Trying to unseat the two-time defending champs–Lindenwood. (20 bucks if you know where Lindenwood is. No googling.)  Sure, this team might never be competing for a Final Four, but how about the chance to play in the Frozen Four?

There’s plenty of hockey fandom amongst the Penn State student body–it helps that Pittsburgh doesn’t have a basketball team–and I’m sure we would embrace a varsity team.  The Icers already receive plenty of support, and the tiny, aging, yellow-tinged Greenberg Penn State Ice Pavilion is packed to the gills for most games.  You can only imagine how that would be magnified with a “real” team, in a new, beautiful, state of the art stadium.

I can’t wait.  Even if it will take a decade.

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  • Charlie

    YES! YES! YES!! About time! Thank you Terry Pegula! Even if we end up in the basement of the presumed Big Ten hockey conference, the chance to face Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State in hockey is incredible. The financial benefits of showcasing conference hockey on the Big Ten network surely can't be lost to the powers that be either.

  • Ben Jones

    This might be the only thing I can agree on with Pens fans. Hockey in Happy Valley is a must

  • NittanyLionFootballFreak

    Its way over do! Hopefully it works out and sooner than later we can have D-1 Hockey once and for all. Pegula Palooza!!! , I'm in!!

  • Dave

    This Badger hockey fan would love to see it happen. It's amazing that, of all the schools throughout Pennsylvania that only Robert Morris and Mercyhurst have D-I programs (as opposed to, say, PSU, Pitt, Penn, Villanova, Temple etc.)

    I have no doubt that the Big Ten schools wouldn't immediatley enter some sort of scheduling agreement, but I would hesitate to say that a true Big Ten Hockey Conference would see the light of day without more than 6 teams. Yes, 6 is technically the minimum, but you can't move Wisconsin and Minnesota out of the WCHA and MSU, Michigan and OSU out of the CCHA without having MONSTROUS ramifications throughout the world of college hockey. It could potentially create major hardships on several WCHA and CCHA schools, and the college hockey world can't stand to lose more programs, unless we're gaining programs. It'd be a step forward for some and major steps backwards for many others.

  • Joe

    Watched a big-ten hocky game where the rink was set-up in the middle of the football field!

  • Joe

    Watched a big-ten hocky game where the rink was set-up in the middle of the football field!

  • Charlie

    The 2001 Michigan / Michigan State “Cold War” game comes to mind at Spartan Stadium. Wisconsin also beat Ohio State in 2006 at Lambeau Field and has a game schedule at Camp Randall with Michigan coming up too. Big Ten hockey, though unlikely as @Dave points out, will be amazing.

  • Hockey Gear Kid

    PennState rocks, the lions deserve a good hockey team.