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Upcoming BJC Dual Raises Questions About Penn State Wrestling’s Home Arena

Since its construction in 1928, Rec Hall has been home to men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s volleyball, previously men’s basketball, and perhaps most notably, Penn State wrestling.

The Nittany Lions have competed in Rec Hall for almost 100 years, but the Cael Sanderson era has brought a new wave of fans and success behind Penn State. This pulls questions about the capability of Rec Hall to house duals, and if it’s the right fit for an ever-growing Penn State team.

The storied facility has sold out 62 straight matches at Rec Hall, with an average attendance of around 6,600 fans. While at the Bryce Jordan Center, seven of the last nine wrestling matches held in the arena have hosted sell-out crowds, reaching almost 16,000 fans at each.

When asked about the possible switchover of facilities, head coach Cael Sanderson believed it to be a toss-up situation.

“We go back and forth on that all the time,” Sanderson said. “A lot of people like Rec Hall, and it’s a great, small, intimate environment, especially if something is happening that’s exciting.”

The Bryce Jordan Center allows for increased capacity, and therefore, more cheering, but it also presents a new set of challenges and changes for both the fans and the athletes.

“The Jordan Center is not designed for wrestling matches and the fans are further away than you’d like them to be,” Sanderson said. “So, we put up the stage, but that limits some of the views that the seats have, so I don’t know.” 

Even a few of the athletes weighed in on the possible shift, but no one in the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex seemed to be 100% set on any one venue.

True freshman Levi Haines is going to experience a BJC dual for the first time on Friday, January 20, and see the difference in atmosphere.

“I think it would be something to look into, but there is also the historical aspect that Rec has,” Haines said. “A lot of the older generations, they look forward to going to Rec because you are a lot more involved and a lot closer, but I think they should definitely have a lot more matches in the Bryce Jordan Center…but you can’t totally go away from wrestling at Rec, either.”

Athletic Director Pat Kraft also weighed in on the state of Rec Hall and its amenities in a previous media availability.

“We have a nice wrestling facility, but we have got to find enhancements,” Kraft said. “The training room is absolutely inadequate.”

A setting that was once ranked the second-best place in the country to watch wrestling seems to be the cause of another question surrounding the future of Penn State’s athletic facilities.

“We kinda need something in the middle,” Sanderson concluded. “We don’t have that, so you have to make the best with what you have.”

The Nittany Lions will have their first of two Bryce Jordan Center duals against No. 3 Michigan at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 20. The dual can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a sophomore staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music and counting down the days until she gets to see Luke Combs at the Linc. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected]

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