A veritable cathedral of college basketball
One of the most storied sporting venues in the country, the Palestra — at the University of Pennsylvania — is located just five minutes from Center City Philadelphia. Opened in 1927, the Palestra is now the oldest major college arena still in use today and has hosted more games, more visiting teams and more NCAA tournaments than any other facility.
And a visit to the Palestra will feel just like that – like taking a trip back in time… to a time before luxury boxes, $1,000 floor seats, and giant plasma scoreboards… to a time when the game was a little simpler.
Perhaps the plaque inside the Palestra explains the arena’s aura best. It reads: “To win the game is great. To play the game is greater. But to love the game is the greatest of all.”
The Palestra has a capacity of 8,700 but every one of those seats feels like it’s right on top of the court. The energy and exuberance of the crowd adds to the experience. But that’s to be expected when you’re home to one of the greatest rivalries in college sports, the Big 5.
Penn, Villanova, Temple, St. Joe’s and LaSalle form the Big 5 — Drexel is an honorary sixth member — and most of the games between the six teams take place on the floor of the Palestra, the group’s official home court.
In 2005, when ESPN.com asked its four college basketball experts for their favorite arenas, The Palestra was at or near the top of each one’s list. Jay Bilas said “it is one of the true gems of the sports world, right up there with Wrigley Field.”
University of Pennsylvania grad and former women’s basketball player, Mikaelyn Austin, produced a feature-length documentary about the storied Palestra that has been licensed by ESPN for national broadcast distribution in the summer of 2007.
Entitled The Palestra: Cathedral of Basketball, the documentary traces the evolution of college basketball through the rise of this most historic arena.
For information regarding the documentary, click the button below.
For more information on the Palestra, click the button below.
In the neighborhood
Museums & Attractions
Baltimore Avenue from 43rd to 50th Street
- Penn Park
- Kelly Writers House
- Hidden City Festival
- Richards Medical Research Building
- Face Fragment
- The Awesome Fest
- Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
- Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University
- View more attractions
Restaurants & Dining