Pegula Ice Arena - Penn State Nittany Lions
Photos by Paul Baker Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.15
Pegula Ice Arena
250 University Dr
University Park, PA 16802
Year Opened: 2013
Welcome to Hockey Valley
While Penn State has iced hockey teams on and off since 1909, the current program traces its roots to 1971. As a member of ACHA, the team played a mix of non-NCAA club teams, NAIA, and Division Three teams. Playing at the 1.350-seat Greenberg Ice Pavilion, Penn State won seven ACHA national Championships, were runners-up 9 times and appeared in 29 ACHA postseason tournaments. They played in the ACHA championship game an astounding ten consecutive times in the 1990s and 2000s.
Over the summer of 2010 rumors began to circulate that Terry Pegula, Penn State alumnus and billionaire hockey fan, was visiting various midwestern hockey facilities. Along with his wife Kim, the Pegulas, who would later purchase the Buffalo Sabres, donated $102 million to the university for the specific purpose of building a hockey arena. In September it was officially announced that the Penn State men’s and women’s teams would compete in Division One. The Big Ten Conference announced that the conference would begin sponsoring men’s ice hockey.
The Nittany Lions have qualified for the NCAA tournament once in their five years competing in Division One. Several Penn State alumni have played professionally after graduation, and one Nittany Lion, Casey Bailey, has played in the National Hockey League.
Food & Beverage 4
Concession stands at Pegula Ice Arena have hockey-themed names like “Icing,” “Power Play,” “Grinders,” “Top Shelf,” “Zamboni” and “Hat Trick.” A wide variety of items, including pulled pork sandwiches, pizza slices, burgers, chicken fingers, sausages, chicken sandwiches, and hot dogs are found at these stands.
Assorted snacks, including nachos, pretzels, popcorn, candies, and applesauce are also available. Menus vary a little depending on which stand you visit, so you may need to do a little searching to find your desired items. Pepsi products are featured at Pegula Ice Arena. No alcohol is sold at this on-campus facility.
At the far end of Pegula Ice Arena behind Section 121 is a lounge complete with a fireplace, televisions, and national chains Subway and Auntie Annie’s Pretzels.
Club and loge ticket holders can gain access to the Pegula Club for an all-you-can-eat buffet. The buffet, which varies from game to game, can be purchased for $18.50.
The game day atmosphere at Pegula Ice Arena is led by the student section, known here as the “Roar Zone.” Packed to the brim with crazed Penn State students, a large pep band smacks dab in the middle, and a cheerleading platform, this section leads the cheers and creates a lot of noise.
The students come dressed in Nittany Lion blue and white and stand throughout the action. The rest of the crowd, full of locals and alums, pack the building to capacity every night, giving the Nittany Lions a significant home ice advantage.
Trophy cases containing memorabilia from the squad’s history line the walls of the concourse alongside interactive displays fans can use to see information about the current squad, coaches, and past Nittany Lion teams. In a modern twist on the college hockey tradition of lining arena walls with team photos, every player to ever suit up for Penn State is immortalized on the arena walls, sorted by uniform number.
There is a large video board hung at the center ice and the Nittany Lion mascot skates during intermissions pumping up the crowd. Traditional hockey staples, including the 50/50 raffle and t-shirt tosses are present to keep the fans involved, not that these fans need a whole lot of help.
All of Penn State’s sports venues, including Beaver Stadium, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, and the Bryce Jordan Center, are located together at the northern edge of campus. Downtown State College is not really within walking distance but is a short five-minute drive away. Countless shops, bars, restaurants, and lodging options are located here. The area has a great college-town vibe to it.
Be sure to check out Fraser Street Deli, which has a huge list of sandwiches named for Penn State stars and memorabilia covering the walls. Happy Valley Brewing Company is a favorite destination for craft beer fans. Legendary Primanti Brothers sandwich shop has a franchise here, offering their iconic sandwiches served with fries and cole slaw inside. If heading down after a game on a Friday or Saturday night, be prepared to share the streets with hordes of Penn State students out for the evening.
There’s a reason they call this place “Hockey Valley.” Penn State averages over 100% capacity for home games at Pegula Ice Arena. Anchored by the Roar Zone, there’s a ton of energy in the building, and is a fun place to catch a game. It’s not unusual to see fans lined up five deep or more in the standing-room sections as the facility fills beyond capacity.
The Penn State campus is located just about smack dab in the middle of the state of Pennsylvania. Located just off Interstate 99, the school’s athletic facilities are easily accessed by car. Most fans who visit Pegula Ice Arena will park on the far side of the Bryce Jordan Center. It’s a bit of a walk, especially on a cold February night.
There is no lobby at Pegula Ice Arena, so fans enter directly onto the concourse. Except for three corners of the rink, which also double as a standing room, the ice surface is not visible from the concourse. Fans enter the seating bowl at the top and make their way down to their seats.
All seats at Pegula Ice arena are plastic folding stadium seats with excellent views of the ice. Loge seating lines the top of the seating bowl, and club seating, along with several luxury boxes, ring the arena at the upper level.
Located at the far end of Pegula Ice Arena is the team’s practice rink, which has seating for 300 fans and is also used by local youth teams and skating programs. It is available for use by the public.
Return on Investment 2
In addition to being quite expensive, tickets to Nittany Lions hockey games can be tough to get, so plan. Tickets for Big Ten games go especially quickly. There is an active secondary market for Penn State tickets, but be prepared to pay a premium depending on the game you are attending. Ticket prices start at $30, with premium tickets on the glass or in loge or club sections priced at $60. Standing room tickets can be purchased for $15.
Be warned if buying standing room tickets, there are only about 75 standing room spots, and the team will make more than 75 SRO tickets available. You may be paying to stare at the back of someone’s head all night.
Parking in the lots next to the Bryce Jordan Center costs five dollars. Concession prices, while not inexpensive, are in line with other facilities in the area.
An extra point is awarded for the interactive displays located throughout the arena. Fans can use these displays to get information about the team, Penn State’s hockey history, or the Ice Arena.
An extra point for the rapid ascent the hockey team has had in such a short time. Even though the team has been competing at the Division One level only since 2012, the Nittany Lions can already boast a conference championship, NCAA tournament appearance, capacity crowds night after night, and a rabid following many teams only dream of.
A final extra point is awarded for the Roar Zone. Be sure to stick around after the game for the three stars of the game and the singing of the Penn State Alma Mater.
The Pegula Ice Arena is already mentioned as one of the marquee collegiate hockey venues in the nation. Penn State hockey has likewise enjoyed a meteoric rise to be considered one of the premier programs in the nation. When you step into Pegula Ice Arena for a Nittany Lion game, be ready for one of the best game day experiences in the nation.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.