After looking at the text message he just received, he stood motionless, shocked at what he had read.
“We were going on a tour of the arena at Boston College, and I got the text from Terry [Pegula] that said hockey deal done, great day for hockey in Happy Valley,” Battista said.
And with that, an idea that started in 2005 was finally in the works, as Penn State would finally have the funds to build an ice hockey arena to house a division I men’s and women’s program.
“[This rink] is going to put a destination in the middle of the state that will become a place where future NHL players and coaches to come out and play some more hockey,” Pegula said.
Pegula and his wife, Kim, gave $88 million to Penn State as a gift to fund the arena, which began construction earlier this year. After donations for scholarships and other funds to the hockey program, Pegula’s gift totaled $102 million.
“We started talking about this four years go, and we’re genuinely excited to get to this point, and we’re ahead of schedule I’ve been told,” Pegula said.
Men’s hockey coach Guy Gadowsky, who came to Penn State from Princeton, is thrilled with what the facilities will offer.
“It’s more and more exciting every day, and it’s going to be huge for recruiting, especially being in the Big Ten conference, because they all have great traditions and a lot of success. To compete at this level, we’re going to have to step up, and the Pegula Ice Arena is going to help us do that.”
Penn State President Rodney Erickson and acting athletic director Dave Joyner also offered their remarks, with Joyner calling it “an epic moment, not just for Penn State, but also Centre County, and Pennsylvania, to celebrate the beginning of the construction of a great facility that will help bring Division I hockey to Happy Valley. It’s a really big day.”
The men’s program will be Independent its first year at the Division I level before moving into the Big Ten Conference and the Pegula Ice Arena at the start of the 2013 season, while the women’s program will join College Hockey America right at the start of the 2012 season.
Also announced this week was the location of the Division I championships starting in 2014. with the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota and the Joe Lewis Arena in Detroit alternating as host of the event through 2017.