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A Very Special Move-In Day at Pegula Ice Arena

by on September 14, 2013 7:40 AM

Thursday September 5, 2013

We did it. After 3 years of planning, designing, and building the Pegula Ice Arena, it was finally ours. "Team Pegula" got the building done on time and on budget and it was a great team effort!

It all started in the fall of 2005 with a conversation with Terry Pegula, continued with our folks at University Development, Athletic Administration, University Administration, Office of Physical Plant, and the help of friend and fellow Smeal Business grad Cliff Benson.

It culminated five years later with the largest gift in PSU history from Terry and Kim Pegula. It took a team to complete this dream!

We received the Occupancy Permit Thursday September 5 at 5:00pm and in a make-shift ceremony, Penn State's Project Manager for Pegula Ice Arena, Marv Bevan, clad in a Penguins jersey, skates, and hockey helmet, signed the formal paperwork and handed it off to Mortenson Superintendent Jason Brown and his wife Heidi (a Mortenson Project Manager).

Ice Rink manager Chris Whittemore was the "witness" and thrust his arms in the air as if we had just won the "Frozen Four" Championship. I, of course, had the all-important role as the photographer!

Then the first "real" skate began. We were at the standard recommended thickness of 1.5 inches of ice and as I skated my first hard lap with a puck on my stick blade, that's when it really hit me. This magnificent building was no longer just a dream but a reality and the "Hockey God's" were smiling on upon Pegula Ice Arena.

Okay, in full disclosure, we technically had the first skate on August 22 when the ice was just ½ inch thick to do some publicity shots. But we weren't really allowed to fire pucks around and get in a hard skate.

Friday September 6, 2013

As I drove east on Whitehall Road at 6:00 a.m. to my first "official" day at work in the new Pegula Ice Arena, I was greeted by the most amazing sunrise coming up over Tussey mountain. It was the perfect start to a day that I have personally waited 35 years to see come to fruition. It made me realize the significance of the day that much more.

When I arrived at the parking lot I spotted Equipment Manager Adam Sheehan and his staff busily unloading boxes of brand new equipment. They had arrived at 5:59 a.m.! Adam was all smiles and excited to get the day moving as his staff had to set up the main equipment room as well as the individual team's satellite rooms.

As I walked up to the office entrance, Mortenson Superintendent Jason Brown was my official greeter! Jason and his wife Heidi have become friends as well as colleagues and they have been an instrumental part of "Team Pegula". We walked into my new office and I said to Jason, "Look now, because this is the cleanest my desk will ever be!"

Monday September 9, 2013

The coaches of the two varsity teams decided not to let the players tour the building this summer until it was completed. So the teams packed up their equipment bags, left Greenberg Ice Rink and made the walk across "Orange F" parking lot and into their new home.

I walked around the locker room suites with tears in my eyes and a smile so wide it hurt. Looking at the sheer joy in the student-athletes eyes made it all perfect. The Women's team spontaneously organized a circle around the in-floor logo and began a heartfelt "We are..." cheer. Goalie Nicole Paniccia sat in her stall looking around wide eyed and tears rolled down her cheeks.

In the men's room as I took pictures of these players high-fiving and hugging each other, it hit me. This "long and winding road", this amazing journey, this dream come true was evolving to an entirely different level. Big Ten hockey has arrived.

Tuesday September 10, 2013

The student ticket sale began at 10 a.m. and kids started camping out at 10 p.m. the night before. Walking over to the Hub I was greeted by quite a sight. The line wrapped around the HUB and outside down toward White building. We sold out in 90 minutes and hundreds on a wait list!

While there is still work going on, the building is 99% complete and the early reviews from all who tour it are exceptional!

This was one move-in that no one seemed to mind!

Photo Gallery - Pegala Ice Arena Move In

Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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