Former Icers coach Joe Battista sits behind his cluttered desk in the basement of the Bryce Jordan Center. An autographed picture of Mario Lemieux standing next to Battista hangs on the wall alongside numerous other plaques and awards.
Now as the Executive Director of the Nittany Lion Club, Battista looks out his window and sees Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and Beaver Stadium, ever wondering if the Icers will be the next Penn State team to receive such an arena for NCAA competition.
The Penn State ACHA Division I Icers hold a rich tradition in club hockey, winning five national championships and making a record 10 straight national title games, a streak that ended this season. The enrollment at University Park is 10x larger than some NCAA Division I programs, and the Greenberg Ice Pavilion is as large or larger than four schools in the Atlantic Hockey Conference.
All of these factors leave many wondering the feasibility to jumping to an NCAA Division I program.
"When you're sitting in this chair on this side and trying to raise the money to fund a broad-based program, you realize the challenges there are," Battista said. "It's not that we couldn't have Division I hockey here. Instead, it would put the kind of financial strain on an already financially strained athletic budget.
"What people don't see is the other cost. Paying a staff of more trainers, doctors, etc. It's a lot more difficult than people realize."
The rink size is the one factor holding the Icers back from moving to Division I. Penn State's ice rink holds about 1,500 spectators, but with the increase of expenses at the NCAA's highest level, the team would need an arena with a larger capacity to make money back with ticket sales.
Other NCAA Division I hockey programs do have seating capacities that rival Penn State's, but the schools do not have to fund major football, basketball or baseball teams.
Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh plays at the Division I level with an arena capacity of 1,100 spectators. While the team has had success since moving to Division I in 2004, it still faces the difficulties of all schools.
"We purchased a great new facility that is more than just hockey related," Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. "We are fully funded as a program, but do not have the maximum 18 allowed scholarships to give.
"Once we fill what we have available, we can think about increasing capacity."
Schooley added the biggest problem for a new program like Robert Morris is name recognition. His team has beaten perennial powerhouses Notre Dame and Boston University in the past two seasons, proving some teams can make the jump and compete with the elite.
But what about the Icers?
"Hockey is obviously an expensive sport that costs a lot of money, but if Penn State could start a program, they would get good quickly," Schooley said. "With the organization there, they could compete within two or three years."
With endorsements like this, it's no surprise the Icers have twice come close to realizing their dreams.
Battista said the plans for the BJC were originally constructed for both a basketball facility as well as an ice hockey facility. Unfortunately, when the crews began construction in 1993 it took more money than anticipated to dig through the surface, so the ice plans were curtailed and the basement was reduced in size.
Even earlier, the Greenberg Ice Pavilion, which the Icers currently call home, was intended to hold upward of 4,500 people, allowing the Icers to support a Division I program. The stands were intended to surround the ice surface like a horseshoe, but because the building was being built during the oil embargo of the early 1980s, money ran out and the building was left with only one set of bleachers, Battista said.
Still, throughout the past two-and-a-half decades, Battista and others have been trying to find a way to raise the money needed for a state-of-the-art facility. But the cost is a great undertaking for all involved.
"A standalone facility will cost you anywhere between $40 to 80 million," Battista said. "Also, where are you going to put it? In terms of the central part of campus, we're running out of space. If you put it too far off campus, you run the risk of students not making it out there."
Battista added the more affordable option was to put ice in the Jordan Center, but after the plans for ice there were dropped, the facility was not constructed to meet the demands of an ice hockey rink. It would also take four to six months to overhaul the BJC, in which time Penn State would lose the revenue the building normally brings in from basketball, concerts and other events.
The obstacles in the way pose a large problem for the Icers, but current head coach Scott Balboni isn't giving up hope.
"Since I got here in 1998, I've been involved in committees for the feasibility and we are continuing to look at it every year," he said. "The bottom line is obviously the monetary commitment."
But if someday the Icers do get the funding to build an arena, what changes will be made within the hockey program itself?
Balboni knows running an NCAA Division I program is much different than where the Icers are at now, but said everyone would be ready for the challenge.
"The day-to-day operations would change drastically, as well as the recruiting process," he said.
"Right now recruiting is limited because we have to be with the team throughout the season and don't get much time to go scout. But if we gained a Division I program, we would have a coach exclusively on the road recruiting, which would be a great benefit."
With this jump to the next level of hockey, both Balboni and Battista believe the community -- which already fills the Greenberg Ice Pavilion in droves -- would embrace the team. The fans would have the opportunity to see an even higher quality of product, with kids that had the potential to play in the NHL.
If the Icers did ascend to Division I, they would have to compete with higher caliber teams, but Balboni agrees with Schooley that Penn State would contend immediately. With Penn State's rich tradition in sports and commitment to student-athletes, the Icers will be able to recruit with other schools in the northeast, Balboni said.
But even with the commitment the school shows, the task of raising the enormous amount of money has plagued the Icers for years. With no certainty in sight, there may be only one solution, and even that is no guarantee.
"This is one of those crying out for help in the wilderness moments. Don't assume we have all that we need," Battista said. "Nothing will change until at least there is a major donor on the landscape, and even if that happens, that's not a guarantee that moving up will occur. You will have to look at all of the impact, including Title IX, of all the things behind the scenes the average fan just doesn't understand."