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Happy Valley Adventure Bureau To Form Sports & Entertainment Commission

Fritz Smith, President and CEO of the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, announced Tuesday the formation of a sports and entertainment commission in Centre County.

HVAB board member and former Penn State Icers head coach Joe Battista will serve as the chairman of the commission. Penn State’s Deputy Director of Athletics Scott Sidwell will serve as vice chair.

“We believe that the time has come. We’ve been behind in forming a sports commission,” Smith said Tuesday afternoon. “There are over 300 sports commissions in the United States today. There are 15 in Pennsylvania. There are nine in the 14 Big Ten cities.

“When we look at the sports legacy that we have in Centre County, we believe it’s past time,” Smith added.

Smith added that there is a clear opportunity for the HVAB to further strengthen its relationship with Penn State. He added that in terms of next steps, an organization called the Huddle Up Group will help to give strategic advice to the commission. Analysis and other decisions on structure will be made over the next five months.

Sidwell explained that Beaver Stadium will have a clear role in the commission’s future. Several ideas have been discussed as to what the venue can be used for down the line.

“We have opportunities to do all kinds of events. We’ve had a concert here… We’re looking at that opportunity,” Sidwell said. “We’ve had some early discussions with the folks at Topgolf, to potentially bring Topgolf to the region sometime in the summer.”

Blake Shelton headlined the Happy Valley Jam, a concert held in Beaver Stadium back in July 2017. Meanwhile, State College Area High School played a football game against Cumberland Valley in the stadium in October 2019.

Sidwell noted that with a “world-class” turf management program, the commission will consider other sporting events to be hosted at Beaver Stadium.

Beaver Stadium has been loosely rumored to host a hockey game before, and Sidwell noted that the idea of an NHL Winter Classic has been explored. However, he added that the weather can certainly be “hit or miss” in preparing for such a large-scale, ice-based event.

“There’s a significant expense to that, and we’re gonna continue to try to continue to find ways to make that happen,” Sidwell said. “We would love to host that event.”

As for soccer, Beaver Stadium’s configuration doesn’t currently allow room for that, but “other opportunities” are being considered.

In terms of a concrete timeline, actual events are being “actively pursued” by the commission. Sidwell noted that the group is trying to put itself in a position to “attract a big name” to Beaver Stadium for a concert. The Bryce Jordan Center and the Eisenhower Auditorium were also mentioned as assets that can be marketed for events created by the commission.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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