Penn State Hockey has always been something of a fantasy for most fans. It’s always “On the table,” “Just around the corner”, but never quite here. After today it’s a very real thing. Terry Pegula, a billionaire by way of Royal Dutch Shell buying out his company, is giving the university a 88 million dollar donation, the largest in Penn State history.
The ball began moving a few years ago when Terry Pegula met with Joe Battista in 2006 over dinner to discuss the possibility of making Penn State a Division-I hockey school. While it took several meetings with the university and hours of thought by the Pegula family a donation has finally been signed in ink. The donation will be used for scholarships (18 men, 20 women) and the construction of a ice hockey arena. The new arena, which would hopefully seat 6,000-8,000 people and cost around $80 million to build, will be situated on the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive directly west of the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State will begin play as an independent school in the 2012-13 season and continue to play in the Greenberg Ice Complex until the arena opens 2 years later. It is possible that Penn State will be playing in the arena in the second half of the 2012-13 season, but the plan currently is to begin play in 2014-15. Which conference Penn State joins in that season is still unknown, but a Big Ten hockey conference is not out of the question. With 6 Big Ten teams fielding hockey programs (Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota,Penn State and Ohio State) this would allow the conference to sponsor hockey and have its champion receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This sort of arrangement is far from being finalized but is a very real possibility. They aren’t the only conference looking at the Lions though.
“They are a very attractive choice — very attractive,” CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos said earlier this month, according to the Detroit News. “They’re in a different market than we’re in, more and more U.S. players are on college rosters, and there’s tremendous growth of the sport in Pennsylvania.”
In regards to the players on the ice Tim Curley and those involved with the program believe that Penn State will be able to field a high level program quickly and with some relative ease.
We feel we can be successful rather quickly… Pennsylvania is a great state for high school hockey
Realistically Penn State shouldn’t have issues recruiting players. Penn State will be fielding a team in a state of the art arena, smack in between two of the largest hockey towns in the country. With the amount of excitment surrounding the program there should be plenty of talent attracted to the area to the tune of 18 mens scholarships to the womens 20. The timing of the Penn State announcment couldn’t have come at a better time either. The 2013 Frozen Four will be played at Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2014 Frozen Four will be hosted by Wachovia Center, home of the Philadelphia Flyers. Talk about a recruiting tool.
Today is a great day to be a hockey fan.