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Official Review by George Dinsmore, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State University has been the home of the Nittany Lions women’s volleyball team since the team was founded in 1976. The team’s first coach was Tom Tait who was the long time coach of the men’s team. The current coach is Russ Rose, who started in 1979 has created a women’s volleyball dynasty at Penn State with seven national championships including the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Rec Hall opened in January 15, 1929 and was also the home court of Penn State basketball until the teams moved to the Bryce Jordan Center in 1996.
The architect for Rec Hall was Charles Z. Klauder, who also designed the iconic Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania in Philly. Rec Hall is also home to Penn State Wrestling and Gymnastics.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are several reasons to visit historic Rec Hall, but the food served in the venue is not one of them. There are only two small snack bars within Rec Hall with a limited amount of items. However prices are very reasonable. Penn State has a Pepsi contract so most drinks are Pepsi brands. Regular sodas are $3, while bottles of water and Gatorade are also on hand ($4). Hot chocolate is available for $2. No alcoholic beverages are served.
Some of the menu items you will find include nachos ($3), hot dogs ($3), sausage ($4), popcorn ($3), soft pretzels ($3), and candy ($3).
The crowds for volleyball and wrestling are very loud in the cozy confines of Rec Hall. The venue seats 6,502 for volleyball, and 6,846 for wrestling. Rec Hall has undergone several renovations including installation of electronic LED scoreboards in 2005. The small facility still has the feel and smell of an old time arena with the fans very close to the action. It does get very warm in the old building, so be sure to dress lightly.
The basketball team probably misses this great atmosphere. The largest crowd in Rec Hall history was 8,600 for men's basketball victory over Virginia on Dec 5th, 1973.
Penn State is surrounded by the town of State College, Pennsylvania which has plenty of nice hotels, fun bars, and great restaurants close to campus and Rec Hall. Directly across the street from Rec Hall, there are two essential Penn State traditions.
The first is the Nittany Lion shrine which often has lines of people waiting to take a photo with the famous statue of Penn State's mascot. Behind the shrine is the historic Nittany Lion Inn which is the closest hotel to Rec Hall. Check out Whiskers Bar in the Nittany Lion Inn which has craft beers on tap, plus great drinks and food.
If you want to stay outside of town I would recommend the Toftrees Marriott Golf Resort. Try the American Ale House in Toftrees if you want fine dining including New Orleans style seafood cooked right at the bar. Shandygaff is a good choice if you're looking for a typical college bar experience, or you can check out the Local Whiskey if you would like some good beers and Irish whiskey.
If eating downtown, try The Fraser Street Deli, offering over 100 sandwiches named after Penn State athletes, coaches and distinguished professors, specializing in breakfast burritos, Reubens, and Panini.
Penn State has very loyal and passionate fans for women's volleyball. Rec Hall gets loud and the fans are very close to the court. The "WE ARE....PENN STATE" cheer is very impressive to experience in person.
State College is located in the middle of Pennsylvania and is now accessible from the west via I-80, from the south via I-99, and from the southeast via Rte 322. Rec Hall is on the west side of campus and is a short walk from downtown. There is a large parking garage across the street from Rec Hall next to the Nittany Lion Inn. There is no mass transit other than buses.
Tickets for volleyball are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. Students get in free. Parking in the garages is $1 per hour, but free if you exit later at night after the attendant leaves. Food prices are reasonable, making this a good value for your sports dollar.
Young fans will find free face painting at Rec Hall. Bonus points for all of the history that has occurred since the building opened in 1928. Penn State has been one of the most successful volleyball programs in the country, with seven national championships, so you know you will see a quality volleyball match when you enter Rec Hall.
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