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Looking Back On 25 Years At The Bryce Jordan Center

The Bryce Jordan Center first opened its door on January 6, 1996, making this year the 25th year in the arena’s storied history. The 16,000-seat multi-purpose arena has become a staple of Penn State, as it sits right in the shadow of Beaver Stadium.

The arena was named after the university’s 14th president, Bryce Jordan, who served from 1983 to 1990 and helped secure the funding to build the BJC. He was also instrumental in Penn State’s introduction into the Big Ten toward the end of his tenure.

The BJC has seen a basketball program that has produced better memes (“h”) than other teams, many sleepless THON nights, and even classes due to the coronavirus pandemic. To recognize 25 years of service, let’s take a trip down memory lane and sample some of the great events that have taken place in the house that Bryce Jordan (figuratively) built.


Penn State’s basketball programs made the move from Rec Hall across campus to the BJC in the 1995-96 season. The BJC has seen many great moments since the men’s program and Lady Lions trekked across campus.

Despite little historical success, the men’s’ basketball team has had its fair share of memorable moments over the years. Flashback to 2009, when Penn State basketball legend and now assistant coach Talor Battle hit arguably the most historic shot in program history against No. 23 Illinois.

Battle’s last-second layup helped the Nittany Lions upset the Illini in front of an uncharacteristically packed BJC. That team went on to win the NIT Tournament that year, too.

Fast forward to the 2019-2020 season, which was the men’s programs best season in modern history. Penn State found itself ranked as high as No. 9 and was in a prime position to make the NCAA Tournament before the coronavirus canceled the tournament, the most “Penn State basketball” ending possible.

The magic of the 2019-20 season had fans feeling like Penn State was a basketball school for the first time in program history. The February 28, 2020 game against Minnesota was the first sell out the team had since 2011. 

The Lady Lions have had their fair share of success in the BJC as well. Its best season came in in 1999-00 season under Rene Portland when the Lady Lions went 30-5 and made it to the Final Four. The best game at the BJC in program history came on February 29, 2004, when 15,000 fans attended the Lady Lions’ 69-60 win over Purdue. It’s still the most attended game in program history.

Some of the greatest sporting moments inside the BJC have come from Penn State wrestling. The arena has hosted many dual meets over the years. In 2013, Penn State hosted Pitt when almost 16,000 fans showed up, which is the attendance record for an NCAA wrestling dual match.

More recently, No. 2 Penn State defeated No. 3 Ohio State 20-16 on February 16, 2020, in front of 15,995 fans. It was an absolutely electric environment, proving once more Penn State is the best wrestling school in the country.

Another notable sporting event includes Micheal Jordan’s return to basketball. After coming out of retirement and signing with the Washington Wizards, one of his first games back was a preseason game at the BJC against the Philadelphia 76ers.


The BJC has seen a plethora of concerts in its time of service at Penn State. World-famous artists such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Kayne West, the Jonas Brothers, and many more have serenaded sold-out crowds at the BJC.

The attendance record for a concert at the BJC was set in 2018 when Metallica came to town. 15,588 fans flooded into the BJC to see the famous rock band. Metallica broke the Backstreet Boys’ 18-year attendance record of 15,512 set in 2000. The Backstreet Boys played two back to back nights in February 2000, with both concerts being in the top 10 of attendance in arena history.

In 1997, Aerosmith recorded its live album “A Little South of Sanity” inside of the BJC. In the song “Love in an Elevator,” you can hear Steven Tyler yell “State College” at the beginning of the song. In 2000, footage from a Backstreet Boys concert at the BJC was featured in their music video for the song “The One.

In recent years, artists like Luke Combs and Twenty One Pilots have graced the BJC stage. Luke Combs’ February 18, 2020, show was the last concert at the BJC before the coronavirus shutdown.


THON made the move over to the BJC from Rec Hall in 2007 in order to make more room for the event. The first THON in the BJC was the event’s 35th year anniversary in which students raised $5,240,385.17.

Ever since 2007, THON has only grown bigger and better. In 2020, THON raised $11,696,943.38. The most money ever raised in a single year came in 2014 when students raised a whopping $13,343,517.33 to help fight pediatric cancer.

The 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon is only a part of the hard work that organizations and individuals put in over the course of a year leading up to the event. The BJC has been the iconic home for THON over the last 13 years.

At Onward State, we’ve always had a great time covering THON from the BJC (while some of us choose to stand for the whole 46 hours). Sleepless nights in the arena have also produced some of our greatest work, like that time former staff writer and No. 1 THON correspondent Anthony “anTHONy” Fiset went a little crazy and ate 15 hot dogs while independently standing the entire weekend.

Due to the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, this is the first year since 2007 that THON will take place digitally. Make no mistake, though. THON and the BJC have been a perfect marriage since 2007, and THON 2022 will hopefully bring the joy of the weekend back to the historic arena.

Other Notable Events

WWE Monday Night Raw, dozens of comedians, monster truck shows, the circus, commencement ceremonies, and many other events have taken place at the BJC in the last 25 years.

2020 was a year that saw the BJC be home to many other things during the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing guidelines meant that lectures would have to be taught inside of the arena.

The BJC was also used as a COVID-19 testing center last fall and a polling place for the 2020 general election. The BJC became a critical home for helping Centre County combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In its 25 years of service, the Bryce Jordan Center has quickly become a Penn State icon. Here’s to many more years of success and fun at one of our beloved arenas.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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