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Former player donates $1.5 M toward Munn renovation project

Gary Harpell played on the Spartan Hockey team legendary coaches Amo Bessone and Ron Mason.
Munn Ice Arena is undergoing 22.2 million in renovations.
Munn Ice Arena is undergoing 22.2 million in renovations.(WILX)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 1:10 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan State University Athletics announced a $1.5 million gift from former Spartan Hockey player Gary Harpell and his wife Joanne Harpell for the Munn Ice Arena expansion project.

“This generous gift from the Harpells gives a vital assist to Spartan Hockey for the ongoing and long-awaited renovation of one of MSU’s most storied sports facilities,” MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. stated. “Gary’s experience is a great example of the important influence being a student-athlete has had on many Spartans’ lives.”

Gary played on the Spartan Hockey team legendary coaches Amo Bessone and Ron Mason.

“Walking on and making the team in 1978 was the fulfilment of many, many years of dreaming, and a goal of mine to play D1 college hockey,” Gary told MSUSpartans.com. “I proved to myself that if I set my mind to something, I could really achieve it. I want that for everybody that comes through Michigan State.”

Gary, a 1982 alumnus, was a member of the hockey team from 1978-82.

“Making that team in 1978 was the springboard for me to be able to take risks. It gave me the confidence that I could go on and do pretty much whatever I wanted to do. I used it in my professional life, in my personal life, it had a profound effect on me.”

Along with his own donations to the facility, Gary has volunteered as part of a committee comprised of fellow Spartan hockey alumni who are helping to gather support to increase fundraising efforts. Munn’s renovation started in 2019, before being paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is set to resume this summer.

The arena is the second oldest in the Big Ten. It was built in 1974, 51 years after the University of Michigan’s Yost Ice Arena. The $26.2 million, 35,000-square-foot facility will significantly improve the ice arena by upgrading areas from ice level to above ground. Included in the improvements are

  • a weight room
  • training room
  • film room
  • offices
  • conference rooms
  • and administrative spaces.

Fans will soon be welcomed through a new “front door” entrance on the south end, which will have a Hall of History of MSU Hockey.

“For me, investing in the Munn renovation project has been a little bit like taking a slap shot off the ankle to save the game. It hurt a bit when I first blocked the shot, when I first made the commitment,” Gary said. “But as time goes on, the pain subsides, and what you’re left with is this incredible feeling. It’s indescribable, the amount of pride that I have in what’s happening at Michigan State and in the hockey program.”

So far, almost $17 million has been raised for the project.

Former Spartan Hockey player Gary Harpell and his wife Joanne Harpell donated $1.5 million for...
Former Spartan Hockey player Gary Harpell and his wife Joanne Harpell donated $1.5 million for the Munn Ice Arena expansion project.(MSU Athletics)

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