Penn State University is building a major on-campus arena to house a new men’s Division I hockey program, launching talk that the Big Ten could form a hockey conference by 2014.
The move was fueled by an $88-million gift from Terrence M. and Kim Pegula to fund a new multi-purpose arena on campus. The University Park arena, slated to open in December 2013, will be the only major rink within an 80-mile radius. An architect will be selected this fall for the arena, which is expected to open in December 2013. (Click on the image to view a schematic of the arena concept.)
The facility will be built on the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive, directly west of the Bryce Jordan Center. It will include two ice sheets and other features that will allow it to be used for a broad range of campus and community activities, from commencement ceremonies to kinesiology classes to public skating sessions and camps for youth.
“The Pegulas’ unparalleled generosity will make it possible for Penn State to serve our region and our student-athletes in exciting new ways,” said Penn State President Graham Spanier. “This arena will be an invaluable year-round asset for members of the University community as well as for children, youth and families throughout central Pennsylvania, and it will be an engine for economic growth and development. The Pegulas’ support also will help us build a program that extends our rich tradition of preparing student-athletes for success in competition and in life.”
The Pegulas, who live in Boca Raton, Fla., have been leaders in the oil and natural gas industry primarily in the Appalachian Basin. Terry Pegula is the founder and former president, CEO and principal shareholder of East Resources Inc., a privately held independent exploration and development company based in Warrendale, Pa., and acquired in July 2010 by Royal Dutch Shell. Pegula, born and raised in Carbondale, Pa., earned a bachelor of science degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering from Penn State in 1973, started East Resources Inc. in 1983 and built it into one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.
The move by Penn State to upgrade the hockey program gives the Big Ten six hockey schools — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State — prompting talk about a Big Ten hockey conference. So far that talk appears to be far in the future, as the conference issued this press release:
“This leads to the presumption that there will be a Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Championship at some point in the future. A decision of that nature, however, cannot be made without a significant amount of discussion both internally with conference chancellors, presidents, administrators and coaches, and externally with the hockey community as a whole.”
That’s not exactly a ringing denunciation of the concept.