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Onward Debates: Rec Hall Or Pegula Ice Arena?

Penn Staters are no strangers to some of the best atmospheres in college athletics.

From Beaver Stadium to the Bryce Jordan Center, Happy Valley is home to a handful of iconic venues. But with men’s hockey recently ending a three-game losing streak and wrestling standing undefeated, all eyes are currently on Rec Hall and Pegula Ice Arena.

While Rec Hall and Pegula Ice Arena are two great venues with many solid amenities, which one is better? Rec Hall’s retro feel and proximity to the action make it a great place to watch a wrestling meet or volleyball match, while Pegula Ice Arena’s fans are right on top of the action and make it noisy from the start.

Two of our staffers went head-to-head over which venue offers the better atmosphere.

Mara McKeon: Rec Hall

What other sport would have 63 consecutive sellout crowds during the regular season?

I entered college having no knowledge of Penn State wrestling or any other sport that calls Rec Hall home, but I have to say, the atmosphere is always electric. The crowd may be smaller than the Bryce Jordan Center or Beaver Stadium, but it allows for an intimate feel between the fans and the athletes that you can’t get anywhere else. Despite having almost 7,000 fans per dual, there are times when you can hear a pin drop during the bouts but also an uproar when someone gets a takedown. 

The unspoken respect and enthusiasm among fans is unmatched.

Aside from the crowds, Rec Hall has almost 100 years of history on campus. From hosting five national championships to holding concerts and to even housing Penn State men’s basketball before the opening of the Bryce Jordan Center, it’s a classic part of campus that can be recognized by almost anyone.

Rec Hall now even has the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex, the Hepper Fitness Center, and so much more for the students to see and have access to. Rec Hall will continue to have that impact for many more years and generations of Penn State fans to come.

Nolan Wick: Pegula Ice Arena

Pegula Ice Arena’s atmosphere is incredible.

Having opened in 2013, the arena is a modern and intimate venue, with fans practically on top of the action. Although the men’s hockey program is not yet as storied as the women’s volleyball team or wrestling team, fans consistently show up and create an electric atmosphere.

The arena’s official capacity of 6,014 has been surpassed several times this season, and the program recently set back-to-back attendance records of over 6,500 fans for each game of its series against Notre Dame over the weekend.

Much of what makes Pegula so loud is the Roar Zone, the hockey student section, which is located behind one of the goals. The Roar Zone, which consists of 10 sections, is almost always full before warmups are even over. The fans are loud from start to finish, and I’ve frequently found it nearly impossible to hear the person next to me on press row because of how noisy it gets at Pegula.

The Roar Zone’s heckling of opposing players and goaltenders, tifos, and chants help make Pegula an incredible venue to watch a hockey game. The arena’s atmosphere has earned praise from all over college hockey — from reporters, fans, and coaches alike.

It really is the best student section in college hockey. Pegula Ice Arena is no joke of an atmosphere, and I’ll take it over the storied Rec Hall.

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