Three years of anticipation and two years of construction have brought our region to an exciting milestone: the grand opening of Pegula Ice Arena at Penn State.
And grand the place and the day will be.
A sold-out crowd of 6,000 will pack the new on-campus hockey building Friday when the Nittany Lions take to the ice at 8 p.m. to play Army in the first game at Pegula, the $90-million, state-of-the-art structure across from the Bryce Jordan Center on University Drive.
Before the game, at 1:30 p.m., a dedication ceremony will be held at the arena, built through an $88 million donation from Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim. The Pegulas also gave Penn State $14 million to support program costs and final details.
The Pegula donation and arena project were announced in September 2010, and ground was broken at the site in January 2012.
Friday, at last, there will be hockey.
“We have had a lot of fun building this building,” said Joe Battista, Penn State’s associate athletic director for ice arena and hockey development. “We think it is going to be a great attraction for central Pennsylvania and going to be an economic engine.”
In addition to Penn State men’s and women’s hockey, the Pegula Ice Arena will host area youth and adult leagues, figure skating and public skating.
On Nov. 3, the arena will welcome the Musselman’s Applesauce Family Skating Tribute featuring former Olympic stars and national entertainers.
The arena features two opera boxes, 525 club seats, 14 suites, a 960-seat student section and room for the Blue Band.
“On behalf of a lot of other people who have dreamed this dream, I couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s happened,” Battista said. “I couldn’t be happier with the facility. It is magnificent. When you see the looks on men’s and women’s players as we did when we moved in here on Sept. 9, it made it all worth it.”
Penn State men’s coach Guy Gadowski expects a day of “high emotion.”
“A lot of people have put a lot of work into this for a lot of years and dreamed a lot of dreams for this to happen,” Gadowski said. “It’s going to be a very exciting night, a very meaningful night.”
Defenseman Connor Varley expects “butterflies and excitement” — for players and fans — as they take in the spectacle of opening night at the region’s incredible new facility.
“When we first stepped in there I was kind of speechless,” goaltender P.J. Musico said. “It’s absolutely gorgeous.
“I don’t think there’s any college team in the nation that has a facility like this.”
Musico added: “We’re really lucky, blessed and thankful to be here.”
We offer our congratulations to the many who have designed and built the arena, developed and raised money for facilities and programs.
And we offer sincere thanks on behalf of our community to the Pegulas for their incredible gift that set this exciting journey in motion.
Let’s drop the puck!