Out on the corner of University and Dauer, a bright LCD scoreboard flashes the following greeting: “Welcome to Panzer Stadium.” Enter the remodeled lacrosse facility at Penn State, and it becomes clear how much $5.6 million in donations can accomplish.
Along with the new display, various other goodies were bought with such extensive funding, with all renovations delegated to the home side. For example, gone are the days of sitting on blankets to watch the Nittany Lion lacrosse teams. Along with traditional bleachers, spectators can now rest on blue-and-white chairs.
Restrooms and elevators were also added to make the game-viewing experience more enjoyable. Missy Doherty, coach of the women’s lacrosse team, is most grateful of the support her program receives from both the university itself and individual donors.
“It’s rare to have a lacrosse-only facility,” she said. “We’re really lucky to be at Penn State.”
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Doherty singled out the contributions of Ken Panzer, a 1982 Penn State graduate and former co-captain of the men’s lacrosse team. In May 2017, Panzer and his business partner Jordan Kaplan committed $3.55 million to the lacrosse programs, kickstarting the current transformation. Donations from other lacrosse alumni and fans raised the total to $5.6 million.
Doherty said she was excited to see how her team actually plays in the new environment, and encouraged the community to “come out and cheer on” the teams for their first scrimmage this weekend. Though Doherty acknowledged some fans might be disappointed by the famed Hill’s disappearance, she said this longing will disappear once they’re exposed to new luxuries, such as restrooms and concession stands.
Jeff Tambroni, coach of the men’s lacrosse team, said the new stadium “speaks volumes about the support this institution” receives from the community, and hopes such endeavors will bring in more recruits. “You can still recruit young men through your core values,” Tambroni said. He added it’s easier to attract potential commits, however, if your program is “analogous” in magnitude to Penn State’s other athletic teams.
Tambroni said more recruits will commit if they’re awestruck by the training facility, and believes the renovations succeeded in this goal. Part of the revamping effort included a new press box. In the past, reporters were struck outside and forced to watch from a small corner of the field. The announcer’s area dedicated space to an enclave for sportswriters, providing them shelter from the elements and a place to comfortably report.
Construction for the project was approved on July 2017, and the stadium itself was dedicated earlier in September.