Within move that alters surroundings of college hockey, Pegula very pleased to unveil new era at Penn State



STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania. – After some 25 years at Penn State, Later on Battista lost count of the number of discussions and great plans he was element of that never got off the ground regarding the Nittany Lions establishing a Division I in a number of ice hockey program.

So when Terry Pegula called in 2005 to invite the Penn State associate athletic director plus former men’s club hockey team coach out for supper, Battista essentially rolled his eyes.

“I’ve had thousands of these calls over the years. And you’re almost wondering, ‘Is this one going to be any different? ‘” Battista said. “So, we all went to dinner and he cut right to the chase plus said, ‘What it going to take? ‘”

Battista threw out a number.

$50 million.

“(Pegula) kind of leaned back, ” Battista said, recalling the moment his dreams started becoming a actuality. “And he said, ‘I think I might be able to help with that. ‘”

Eight years later — with a price tag more than double Battista’s initial estimate — Pegula delivered in 2010 with what became a $102 million donation — $88 million to build the Pegula Glaciers Arena, and another $14 million for related expenses, including scholarships.

On Friday night, Pegula will be dropping the ceremonial first puck before Penn State’s game against Army to formally usher in the Nittany Lions’ first season in the newly established Big Ten Hockey Conference.

“I think it’s going to be surreal for me, because this will be the culmination of a 35-year experience that started in 1978, coming in as a freshman to play hockey at Penn State, inch Battista said. “For myself and a lot of other hockey lovers, alums, I don’t know which our feet will touch the ground. ”

Intended for Pegula, the Buffalo Sabres owner and Pennsylvania-born gas magnate, the night marks the culmination of his two passions: hockey and his alma mater. It was no coincidence that Pegula’s first substantial move after selling his energy company to Regal Dutch Shell PLC with regard to $4. 7 billion this year was to fund Penn State hockey.

“Penn State gave me the education, inch Pegula told The Linked Press. “And to have a hand in accomplishing Penn State heading Division I is very, really satisfying for me. ”

The men’s group spent last year playing as an independent at college’s best level. The arena will also serve as home to the women’s hockey team, a member of College Hockey America.

Among the things Pegula’s looking towards is finally getting a chance to tour the 200, 000-plus square-foot, two-rink facility.

“To be honest with you, I haven’t visited see it yet, ” Pegula said. “I’ve been upon campus and meant to visit there and see the employees and everything. But items get busy. ”

Pegula shouldn’t be unhappy in a building he great wife Kim helped design.

Fans are greeted by the “Welcome to Hockey Valley” banner hanging above the entryway leading into the intimate 5, 782-seat facility. The arena features a flat metal ceiling to reflect and enhance the sound. Opposing goalies won’t have it easy. They’ll spend the very first and third periods actively playing behind a steep, concrete student section that towers behind them.

“It should be a kind of a place that can get a little noisy. The particular student section is designed this way, ” Pegula said. “I thought since we’re creating a hockey arena, that it should be a place the home team finds comfort in, and opposing teams are up against the appears and the atmosphere. ”

The seats are colored Penn State blue, as are the carpets plus walls in both the in a number of and women’s locker rooms. There are Nittany Lions logos everywhere, including glass-encased types cut into the middle of every locker room floor. The front of the building is covered in glass, providing a beautiful view of Happy Valley — with Mount Nittany to the south and Beaver Stadium to the north.

That was part of Pegula’s purpose.

After spending a lot of his life drilling holes in search of natural gas deposits, Pegula has spent the past 3 years focusing on above-ground projects. Aside from Penn State, Pegula offers invested $172 million of his own money to build the particular HarborCenter hotel/hockey/entertainment complex that is going up across the street from the Sabres’ arena in downtown Zoysia.

At Penn State, Pegula has not only transformed the landscape together University Drive, but also that of college hockey.

The Nittany Lions’ leap to Division I led to the formation of a six-team Big Ten, and a reshuffling of both the Western plus Central Collegiate Hockey Associations.

That was also part of the plan for Pegula, who also long desired to see Penn State compete against the enjoys of Michigan. He also has designs on growing hockey’s popularity in the U. H.

“I sensed that I was in a position that I could make that happen with regard to Penn State, ” Pegula said. “We’ll see what goes on from here on out. But I’m sure this will be a stepping stone with regard to U. S. hockey to be more popular. ”

Big Ten associate office Jennifer Heppel said actually is too early to determine what that next step might be, noting how expensive it is for educational institutions to add programs such as hockey. When it comes to Big Ten hockey, she can’t understate Pegula’s influence.

“I don’t think it would have happened without him, ” mentioned Heppel, who will attend Penn State’s opener. “He simply must be thrilled and so very pleased. I think congratulations are in order for him. ”

It’s Battista’s dream to one day have more colleges type hockey programs.

“Someday, ” Battista mentioned, “wouldn’t it be excellent to turn on the television and see Penn State play Alabama in ice hockey? inch

For now, he could settle on looking forward to Friday, plus Pegula’s reaction when he or she finally enters the building that bears his name.

“Terry’s such a humble guy that I think he’ll become more excited about the looks upon other people’s faces, ” Battista said. “That’s, what I believe, will jazz him. inch