PALESTRA

Location 215 S 33rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Broke ground 1926
Opened January 1, 1927
Owner University of Pennsylvania
Operator University of Pennsylvania
Architect Charles Klauder
Capacity 8,722

Tenants
Penn Quakers (basketball, volleyball & wrestling) (1927–present)
Philadelphia Big 5 Basketball (La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple, Villanova) (1955–present)
Saint Joseph's Hawks (basketball) (2008–2009)[1]

 

The Palestra, also known as the Cathedral of College Basketball, is a historic arena and the home gym of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers men's and women's basketball teams, volleyball teams, wrestling team, and Philadelphia Big 5 basketball. Located at 215 South 33rd St. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, near Franklin Field in the University City section of Philadelphia, it opened on January 1, 1927.

The arena originally sat about 10,000, but now seats 8,722 for basketball. The Palestra is famed for its close-to-the-court seating with the bleachers ending at the floor with no barrier to separate the fans from the game.

At the time of its construction, the Palestra was one of the largest arenas in the world. It was one of the first modern steel-and-concrete arenas in the United States and also one of the first to be constructed without interior pillars blocking the view.


The Palestra hosted its first basketball game on January 1, 1927. Pennsylvania defeated Yale 26-15 before a capacity crowd of 10,000, then the largest crowd ever to attend a basketball game on the East Coast.

In summer 2007, ESPN Classic broadcasted a one-hour documentary on the historic arena, entitled "The Palestra: Cathedral of Basketball." This feature-length documentary traces the evolution of college basketball through the rise of this most storied arena, exploring how it became the stomping ground for the game that captured the heart of America, and how its majesty diminished as the sport it nurtured blossomed into lavish and high-priced popularity. Eight decades in the most hallowed halls of college hoops is illuminated through never-before-seen historical footage; voiceovers by NFL Films' Harry Kalas; and interviews noted figures in college basketball such as NBA great Bill Bradley; Naismith Hall of Fame Coaches Chuck Daly, Jack Ramsay and John Chaney; best-selling sports author John Feinstein; and CBS/ESPN analyst Bill Raftery.

The film was written, produced and directed by former Penn Women's Basketball player Mikaelyn Austin (founder of Philly Philms). Local PBS telecaster WHYY has used the film during pledge drives.