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The Palestra

A veritable cathedral of college basketball

The Palestra

Checking out a basketball game at The Palestra Credit: Courtesy of Penn Athletes


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, $1000 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 a honorary sixth member — and most of the games between the six teams take place on the floor of the Palestra, the groups official home court.

Check out for a complete schedule.

So be sure to do what you can to catch a game here; you’ll certainly be glad you did.

Insider Tip

In 2005, when asked its four college basketball experts for their favorite arenas, The Palestra was at or near the top of each one’s “(external)list:, with Jay Bilas saying “it is one of the true gems of the sports world, right up there with Wrigley Field.”

Palestra Documentary

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. The original airing is Thursday, July 5th @ 10 p.m. EST on ESPN Classic. For information regarding the documentary about further airdates and to view the trailer please visit the official website.

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