The Palestra is the name of the University of Pennsylvania's historic basketball arena.

Opened in 1927, the Palestra has hosted more games, visiting teams, and NCAA men's basketball tournaments (50 games as part of 19 tournaments; including the final of the first ever NCAA tournament in 1939) than any other arena (according to Penn's athletics website).

Beyond hosting Penn's home basketball games, for many years the Palestra has been home to heated Big 5 (Penn, Drexel, Temple, LaSalle, and St. Joseph's; all schools in Philly) games.

The arena is considered one of the best places in the country to watch a basketball game. It's loud (when filled), it's historic, and the atmosphere is hard to match. Some say it's just an old, outdated arena that should be replaced, but it's a place of history, of ghosts. It's hard to even describe what the Palestra is really about. If you're ever in Philadelphia during college basketball season, I encourage you to stop by for a game there.

The capacity is just 8722 (which is small by modern standards; a main reason why NCAA Tournament games are no longer held there).

I consider it an honor to have broadcasted several games at the Palestra while I was a sports broadcaster during my years at Cornell. While I should dislike the place (since Cornell almost never wins there), as a sports fan and a fan of sports history, it's my favorite college hoops arena.

Pa*les"tra (?), n.; pl. L. Palestrae (#), E. Palestras (#). [NL., fr. L. palaestra, Gr. , fr. to wrestle.] [Written also palaestra.] Antiq. (a)

A wrestling school; hence, a gymnasium, or place for athletic exercise in general.

(b)

A wrestling; the exercise of wrestling.

 

© Webster 1913.

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