Sunday, May 25, 2008

Philadelphia’s Holdings Of Historic College Hoops Arenas To Double As Drexel Converts Armory to 5,000-Seat Lil' Palestra

drexel armory philadelphia basketballHot shit coming at you from UCity.
[Last month] Drexel president Dr. Constantine Papadakis and Major General Jessica L. Wright, the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, co-signed an agreement stating that the university and the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs (DMVA) will develop a long-term plan to renovate the Armory into a convocation center and basketball arena for the Dragons.
[…]
All told, the project is 10 years in the making. Drexel and the National Guard began discussions in 1998 about the university using the Armory. The talks resulted in the two forming a working team named "Operation Partnership" that ultimately finalized the details of the transition agreement.

As one of the oldest armories in Pennsylvania, the approximately 21,000 square-foot building was first listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

"We're standing in the midst of United States history," Papadakis said. "A place with such an illustrious history deserves an equally brighter future."
drexel university armory philadelphia basketballThe Armory, which was designed in 1916 and constructed in 1920, was previously the home court of the Dragon's from 1969 to 1975. This time around, however, should be a lot sexier.
According to Drexel athletic director Dr. Eric Zillmer, in order to make that future a reality, the Armory will undergo a major renovation that will last upwards of four to five years. Over the next 12 to 18 months, engineers will design a plan to completely refurbish the building and dig down about 20 feet underneath the building. The result will be an arena where visitors enter the building in a middle concourse and walk down into a bowl or upward to rows of seats climbing up two sides of the building.

Zillmer said the cost to refurbish the Armory is still very much up in the air, at least until engineers study the building. He suggested that, because the building is located in the heart of bustling University City, it could cost anywhere from around $30 million to upwards of $80 million.

Going by artists' renderings, Drexel basketball's new home could resemble a mini-version of the Palestra. The building seems to be filled with antique air. Windowed walls will allow plenty of natural light in, and a high-arcing ceiling will allow noise to travel, but the brick structure will keep it tightly in place.

Overall, Drexel's vision of the Armory seems to be a building with a vintage feel, but also complete with all the modern amenities.
Good for Drexel. Seriously. This sounds like it's going to be awesome for decades to come.

And, who knows… maybe it will convince the Big 5 to to formally include the Dragons once and for all.

the drexel dragons basketballBut probably not. Hopefully, the Dragons can at least use the news as motivation to run shit next season, finally start dominating the Colonial Athletic League, and, in so doing, show the Big 5 why they belong via the court.

Related:
Philadelphia Armory Will Be Drexel's Next Hoops Home [ The Philadelphia Bulletin ]
Drexel Clears Way For New Arena [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Drexel takes over Armory [ The Drexel Triangle ]

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