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Official Review by Andrew Kulyk, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Think of Penn State athletics and immediately the legendary football program comes to mind. Despite the hits the program has taken these past few years, the Paterno legacy will always be a part of things here. But that is changing, and one of the changes is a huge step for Penn State hockey as it jumps to Division One. That change would be benefactor billionaire Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills, who contributed $102 million to pay for the bulk of the cost for a shiny state of the art hockey venue. His contribution helped build Pegula Ice Arena, one of the nicer and more opulent venues in all of college hockey.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
What you have here is a grouping of different concession items based on a theme. A mini food court overlooks the auxiliary practice rink, and the national chains Subway and Auntie Anne's Pretzels are sold here, complete with the look of any Subway interior, augmented with stone fireplaces and lounge seating areas. Themed stands include "Icing" and "Top Shelf" - Pizza $6, Pulled Pork $6, Hamburger/Cheeseburger $5, and Hot Dog $4. "Grinders" offers Sausage with pepper/onions $6, chicken sandwich $5. Slushies, soda and bottled water cost $4, and Tim Hortons coffee is $3. There are no alcoholic beverages sold on premises.
The coolest feature of the seating bowl design is the student end zone. Bench seating is pitched at a steep angle, putting the fans right atop the action. The students fill the section, complete with a marching band in the center, and a cheerleading platform to boot. It is called the "Roar Zone," and the name fits. Students lead the cheers and songs and gives the place a feel of a Euro style soccer match. The rest of the fans also join in.
Additionally, super modern tech touches are present, including ribbon boards which wrap around the bowl and a high definition 4 sided scoreboard. Natural light floods the seating bowl from upper deck windows on the opposite end zone, making this a pleasing setting to the eye.
The sports venues - hockey, football, basketball and baseball, are all grouped together at one end of the campus, and "downtown" State College, if you will, is more of a drive than a walk. But once there, you will find block after block of shops, pubs and restaurants to satisfy any hankering. Our favorite sandwich shop is Fraser Street Deli, with a huge sandwich list named after Penn State stars, and memorabilia all over the walls. Happy Valley Brewing Company has a wide selection of local brews. Kildare's Irish Pub has a nice location with an outdoor patio for seasonal use. The whole neighborhood has a great college town vibe.
They pretty much sell out the place. That's 6100 seats in the building, and fans here have really embraced the division 1 hockey program, even nicknaming the facility "Hockey Valley." The Roar Zone adds a lot of energy to the building and makes it a fun place.
Parking is available across the street adjacent to the Bryce Jordan Center, which is the Penn State basketball arena. The cost is $5. It is a bit of a walk. There are intra-campus bus shuttles to ferry students back to their residences, but otherwise public transportation is really not an option.
Single game tickets run $10 for the student section up to $25 for center ice seats. Premium seat experiences are available on the club level, where a minimum $43 seat also includes access to the Pegula Club, offering a buffet, snacks and desserts. No way around the parking which is $5. Concession prices are pretty reasonable. The prices at the Subway restaurant are pretty much the same as those at any outside location.
One star for the Roar Zone, and be sure to stay for the three stars and the singing of the Penn State Alma Mater afterwards.
Two stars for the incredible displays and amount of memorabilia in the concourses, including a modern touch screen where fans can access information on the team and the players.
One star for Terry and Kim Pegula, who made this building happen. They brought a bit of Buffalo into the building, including a reference to Sabres' announcer Rick Jeanneret whose famous "top shelf where momma hides the cookies" call inspired the Top Shelf concession stand. Also, the high pitched seats in the student end zone are reminiscent of the seating experience in the oranges at Buffalo's old Memorial Auditorium.
Pegula Ice Arena certainly raises the bar for the college hockey experience - for the fans, the players, the students and the Penn State community. Only in its second year of use, the venue is already receiving critical acclaim as one of the top collegiate arenas in the country, and for good reason.
Member Review by BeenThereSports on Mar 07, 2014
Pegula Arena in State College, Pennsylvania opened just in time for the start of the 2013-2014 Penn State ice hockey season. The arena was paid for by a $100 million donation from Penn State Alum and natural gas billionaire Terry Pegula and his wife Kim. This enabled the Penn State Men’s and Women’s team to move from Club Hockey to NCAA and into the newly formed Big Ten hockey conference. Penn State also still has ACHA Men’s and Women’s Club teams playing in the arena. Many college hockey fans say that Pegula Arena is one of the top five NCAA arenas in the USA!
Member Review by J-Man on Feb 21, 2016
Long story short, imagine you are in an indoor Beaver Stadium during the White Out game. The building itself is modern in every way and felt like an AHL or even a NHL game
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1221 E College Ave
State College, PA 16801