Pricey Preparations: Penn State's Renovates Rec Hall

Penn State Rec Hall, May 2006

Normally when you have a party, you do a little cleaning and fixing up to make a good impression on your guests. But when you’re Penn State and the party is the 2011 National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship, you take the cleaning and fixing to an entirely different level.

In October, Penn State’s Director of Athletics Tim Curley announced a major gift that will create a state-of-the-art media production center to be housed in Rec Hall, the home of the Nittany Lions men’s and women’s volleyball programs, along with wrestling and men’s and women’s gymnastics. The Steve Jones Student Sports Broadcasting Complex, named for the longtime Penn State radio and television broadcaster, will contain two control rooms, an editing lab, an HD viewing room and a dedicated media room. The Complex, along with already-scheduled renovations that include new graphics and HD video boards larger than 10 by 25 feet, will greatly enhance the fan experience at Nittany Lions events by providing multiple live camera feeds, instant replays, animations and logos and real-time statistics.

The Complex is being made possible by a major gift from Richard and Susan Barry. While the exact amount hasn’t been disclosed, it is being called one of the largest in the history of Penn State Athletics. That’s saying something, considering in September Penn State also announced its largest major donation, an $88 million gift from Terrence and Kim Pegula to fund a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose arena and help establish NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs and enhanced figure skating opportunities.

It is something that in this economy these donations keep rolling in for Penn State, and it goes back to the pride that is felt within the Nittany Lions community.

“Penn State is fortunate to have donors who believe in our program and most importantly, our student-athletes,” said Curley. “They want to provide the best practice and competition venues for the student-athletes to succeed at the highest levels.”
The student-athletes also appreciate the improvements that are being made, and understand that the fan experience goes a long way in ultimately helping the success of the team.

“The renovations to Rec Hall are great, and the HD video boards are amazing,” said redshirt junior setter Edgardo Goas. “It is going to give the regular fan a chance to appreciate the great plays. Since the men’s game is so fast, having that HD board will ultimately help the fans understand the quick short plays. The replays may also help us as players realize where we missed a play, you would see if you overran a hitter when blocking, among other things. They’re just a really great addition.”

The renovations will not only aid the team and the fans during sporting events, but the Complex will allow for real-world experience for students. One of the complex’s control rooms will be dedicated to producing live in-game elements for the video boards while the second will replicate an environment normally only found in remote production units, or television trucks, like those used by the Big Ten Network or ESPN. This hands-on complex is a joint project with Penn State’s College of Communications.

“The Steve Jones Student Sports Broadcasting Complex will be a spectacular additional home for real world experiences for students in the College of Communications,” Doug Anderson, Dean of the College, said in a press release. “We have hundreds of students majoring in broadcast journalism, along with scores more who are enrolled in our John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, who are interested in sports broadcasting or production.

“The opportunities we are able to offer our students have grown immensely over the past decade, but this facility will take us to a new level because our students now will be able to produce live sporting events for a national audience. And it is truly fitting that the students will be able to gain fabulous experience in a facility the Barrys have chosen to name for one of our most energetic, respected and valuable instructors.”

Head Men’s Volleyball Coach Mark Pavlik agrees with Anderson and said that Jones’ influence on Penn State athletics and the public perception will go hand-in-hand with the visibility of the new facility.

“Over the airways, Steve Jones has represented Penn State to millions of people, and to do this kind of facility in Rec Hall in the manner of class and professionalism of Steve will greatly enhance an already outstanding building. Penn State continues to elevate the support for athletics to make our events even more interactive and enjoyable for the fans. With all of the experience our event staff has at running NCAA Championships, this just provides Penn State with even more of a vehicle to make the 2011 Men’s Collegiate Championship that much more special for the student-athletes who are competing in it and the fans who are supporting it.”

Originally published in March/April 2011

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