Penn’s Beloved Palestra Turns 90 Years Old

Palestra

A packed Palestra on Saturday afternoon. | Photo: Dan McQuade

The first thing Tom Izzo did was apologize.

It was Saturday afternoon. His Michigan State Spartans had just lost to the Penn State Nittany Lions, 72-63. The game was played at Penn’s Palestra, with Penn State giving up a home game in order to get a better foothold in the rich Philadelphia high school basketball recruiting environment. Lions fans packed the building for the season’s first sellout — despite Villanova playing there twice last fall — and Izzo’s team came out flat. Penn State shot 60 percent in the first half; the 12-point halftime lead was enough that Michigan State never got closer than 5 in the second.

“I’m embarrassed that in a city where basketball is like this that my team would play like they did that first half,” said Izzo, who has led Michigan State to seven Final Fours and one title. “We guarded nobody. I was totally frustrated with the way we played, and I guess I’m going to have to live with some of it … this was humiliating for me to be in such a great city and a great basketball venue and I did not have my players ready to play.”

Later, he actually apologized to the building itself. “My apologizes to this magnificent facility,” he said. Read more »

Let’s Bring the NCAA Tournament Back to the Palestra

The Palestra - inside view

Penn and Saint Joseph’s before a January game at the Palestra in 2006 | Photo by John Shadle (license)

Part of the NCAA tournament could come back to Philadelphia next year, and we should all get behind it.

Recently, the NCAA moved all of its championship events from North Carolina due to its opposition to the state’s House Bill 2. That includes an NCAA Tournament subregional that was scheduled for Greensboro. The first- and second-round games will be moved to another site. Read more »