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Onward Debates: Should Penn State Hoops Return To Rec Hall?

After Penn State men’s basketball’s recent game at the Palestra, there’s no doubting the electric atmosphere the game had.

The Palestra is awfully similar to Penn State’s Rec Hall — they were even both designed by Charles Z. Klauder, which explains their similar structures. With that being said, two of our writers are at odds over whether or not the program should continue to play its home games at the Bryce Jordan Center or move back across campus to Rec Hall.

Read on for a clash between tradition and the status quo.

Nolan Wick: Yes

The Bryce Jordan Center is a fine arena. Its capacity and ability to host all kinds of events make it a suitable arena for a college campus. However, the arena is nothing more than “fine.”

The BJC has been criticized for how far some of the seats are from the court and the arena’s atmosphere during games. The latter will probably change for the better as the program continues its rise, but moving games back to Rec Hall would offer an upgrade in both categories. 

Rec Hall is known to have a raucous atmosphere, like multiple other venues of its kind in the country. Whenever Penn State has played there or at the Palestra, the crowds have been electric, as the fans are packed in and closer to the action. If the Nittany Lions play in front of this kind of energy every game, it would definitely give them a boost. 

Some elite college basketball programs, including Duke and Gonzaga, play in smaller arenas that are similar to Rec Hall, which provide noisy and challenging venues for opponents. 

Overall, Rec Hall’s retro feel, its intimacy, and louder crowds are why Shrewsberry and company should move back to the place the program called home for so long. 

Joe Lister: No

Penn State hoops’ game at the Palestra was (almost) an absolute success. While the Nittany Lions weren’t able to pull out a win against the No. 1 team in the country, they most certainly put on a show — punctuated by the Legion of Blue, the team’s student section.

That being said, men’s basketball games at the Palestra, and similar venues, are showcases that should only come around once in a while. They should get people to talk about the teams and say, “Wow, that was really cool!”

Rec Hall is simply too small to consistently host basketball games. For one, the venue hasn’t consistently hosted basketball since before the turn of the century. Rec Hall would have to undergo significant renovations to start hosting the sport again.

Secondly, the building just doesn’t have the capacity. The Palestra hosted 8,700 fans, while Rec Hall only holds 6,502 attendees.

As men’s basketball continues to grow on its way to a possible first tournament appearance in over a decade, more fans will start coming to games. If this year’s success rolls over into next year, it isn’t hard to envision a Penn State hoops team that starts generating serious ticket sales.

The BJC is not perfect, but it’s still the best way to get fans into games and grow attendance. If Penn State men’s basketball wants to continue to grow, then Rec Hall simply isn’t a viable option.

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