Currently the Penn State basketball program plays its home games at the Bryce Jordan Center, an on-campus facility that seats more than 15,000 fans and is named in honor of the man who helped shepherd the school into the Big Ten Conference.
But many of the Nittany Lions’ best moments as a basketball program came when the team called Rec Hall home. On Wednesday the school announced that Penn State would return to Rec Hall for one game this season, as they’ll host Princeton on Saturday, December 14.
The Nittany Lions haven’t played a game at Rec Hall since 1996, with their final game being a 79-50 win over Wisconsin on January 7, 1996.
“This is a very exciting day for our program, alumni and fans of Penn State basketball,” Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said in the release announcing the news. “I watched Penn State basketball in Rec Hall when I was younger, and it was electric. When I think of Rec Hall I think of passion, energy and tradition. We listened to our alums and fans and we wanted to bring that Rec Hall experience back.
“I’m very grateful to [athletic director] Dr. [David] Joyner, the administration and my fellow coaches who currently occupy Rec Hall who have been incredibly cooperative in making this game a reality.”
Currently used by the school’s volleyball (men’s and women’s) and gymnastics programs, Rec Hall will be configured to seat some 6,300 fans for the game with 2,100 of the tickets being set aside for students.
This marks the second consecutive season that a Big Ten team has played a game in its old gym, as Michigan State played an exhibition against Tuskegee last season to commemorate the anniversary of the 1963 “Game of Change” played between Loyola (Chicago) and Mississippi State at Jenison Field House.
Penn State won nearly 74% of its games at Rec Hall, posting a record of 514-183. And while there’s something to be said for the Nittany Lions’ struggles (from a talent standpoint) for much of their time in Bryce Jordan Center, many will say that the atmosphere had as much of an impact on opposing teams as the talent did.