The Palestra

A veritable cathedral of college basketball

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Photo courtesy The Palestra
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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.

A visit to The Palestra feels like taking a trip back in time to an era 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 Experience

The Palestra has a capacity of 8,700 but every one of those seats feels like it’s right on top of the court.

Opened in 1927, The Palestra is the oldest major college arena still in use today.

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 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.”

Don’t Miss

University of Pennsylvania grad and former women’s basketball player Mikaelyn Austin produced a feature-length documentary about The Palestra that was licensed by ESPN.

Entitled The Palestra: Cathedral of Basketball, the documentary traces the evolution of college basketball through the rise of this most historic arena.

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