Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's Opening Night for New Arena

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's Opening Night for New Arena

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When the sun sets outside of Pegula Ice Arena, the rays peek through glass on the west side of the building, refract and then reflect off the glass on the eastern side of the building onto the ice, creating a few speckles of glare.

Associate athletic director Joe Battista points this out on a tour of the facility.

Aside from this minor distraction, the $102 million Pegula Ice Arena is everything the price tag would suggest, a meticulously planned and executed palace of ice, luxury and a promised raucous atmosphere more befitting of a cosmopolitan coastal city than a college town in Central Pennsylvania. At 8 tonight, Penn State will play its first hockey game in the new arena, facing Army.

It was just three years ago that Pegula, an alumnus who had recently sold his East Resources oil and gas company for $4.7 billion, announced his gift to the university at a news conference, saying he wanted Penn State to be able to recruit its own Sidney Crosby.

Now everything is finished.

"This building we think is going to be the premier college hockey facility in North America," Battista said.

No person, aside from Pegula and his wife, Kim, has done more for this arena than Battista. He's a Penn State lifer, having played, graduated and coached here.

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when interest rates were as inflated as the afro he had on his head, Penn State was supposed to build a 4,000-seat arena for what would become a Division I hockey team.

Because of increased borrowing expenses, the school instead had to settle for the 1,057-seat Greenberg Ice Pavilion.

The building is charming -- if you enjoy the smell of gym socks and believe life is supposed to imitate "Slap Shot."

On a whim in 2005, Pegula contacted Battista about what was necessary to start a Division I program. Eight-digit figures were discussed. Pegula was on board.

The deal was much more complicated, but that was the official start to the scene Battista walked into a few months ago. On one of his random trips to check on construction progress he saw the final piece of precast concrete being placed. …

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