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Official Review by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Temple Owls are one of the oldest college basketball teams in the nation dating back to 1894. The Owls have registered 1,870 wins after 106 seasons, good for fifth overall behind powerhouses Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, and Duke. They have also dominated the Big 5 competition that features four other schools in the college hoops hotbed of Philadelphia, taking 27 titles.
The 10,200 multi-purpose arena has been home to Temple since 1997; the venue was renamed and dedicated to university President Peter J. Liacouras on February 13, 2000.
Despite this storied history and playing in the American Athletic Conference, the program isn't that well known nationally; their home venue Liacouras Center doesn't have the same cachet as Rupp Arena or Cameron Indoor Stadium.
After a recent visit, it is clear why this is so.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are several concession stands along the single concourse, each with ties to the Philadelphia area. Chickie's and Pete's (crab fries with cheese for $11), Tony Luke's ($10 cheesesteaks) and Broad Street Dogs ($6.50 for Italian Sausage and $4.50 for hot dogs) are three highlights.
Hack-a-Snack offers more generic food, but makes up for it with an amusing name, and you can get popcorn or a pretzel at most stands for $4.50. Pita Chip serves shawarma and falafel for $10 and P.J. Whelihan's offers boneless wings. Scoops and Hoops serves a variety of ice cream treats.
In a rarity for a campus venue, beer is available for $7. If you prefer non-alcoholic beverages, Coke products are served by the bottle for $5, bottled water for 50 cents less, and coffee for $2.75.
A great variety here, but the low quality of my hot dog costs a point.
The Liacouras Center is a multi-purpose facility with a single concourse that leads to two seating levels on three sides of the court (the upper level on one side is replaced with a frightening mural of owl eyes). Seats are bright red and legroom is sufficient.
There are seating zones behind each basket, namely the Cherry Zone (which is for the students) and the White Zone after the school's colors.
Inside the arena there is a four-sided scoreboard above center court that shows detailed replays, banners in the rafters celebrating past accomplishments of the squad, and a Ring of Honor that was inaugurated in 2016.
The band and cheerleaders add to the proceedings, but overall, things are relatively sedate for a program as storied as Temple.
Located in the improving North Philadelphia area at the intersection of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, the Temple campus is surrounded with good bars and restaurants.
Pub Webb on Cecil B. Moore Avenue is a cozy neighborhood establishment with a fantastic afternoon happy hour from 4-6 PM Tuesday-Friday (try the cheesesteak fries with marinara for $3.50) and $2 Yuengling drafts on Sundays.
The Draught Horse is another great choice and is just south of the arena, perfect for larger groups and families. For a more relaxing experience, Champ's Diner and Pazzo Pazzo pizza both get positive reviews.
Although first-time visitors are not required by law to have a cheesesteak, you will become the laughingstock among your friends for not doing so. To avoid embarrassment. try Tony Luke's at the southeast corner of the main intersection.
Temple fans have a great reputation, a Sunday afternoon against a weaker non-conference opponent drew just over 5,000. Those that were there were well behaved and cheered appropriately, but it is hard to give a higher score when the facility is not even half full. When Big 5 opponent visits, the situation is supposedly much different, so keep that in mind if you are in town for one of those games.
Getting here from downtown is easy as the Philadelphia subway stops at Cecil B. Moore, eight stations from City Hall. From here the arena is just a half a block north on the west side of Broad Street.
If you do decide to drive, you should be able to find street parking in the vicinity, though keep in mind that this area is not conveniently located close to any highway. There is a parking garage, though at $17, it is a bit pricey for this level of college hoops.
Inside, the concourse is spacious and the small crowd ensures that there is no problem getting around, nor any issue with the washrooms.
Tickets vary depending on the opponent. For a non-conference foe (or even a lesser team from the American), the best seats start at $35, while those in the upper deck are $15. Expect to pay $5 more for when a more compelling school is visiting. Coupled with the food, this is a reasonable investment and one worth making.
Statues of coaching legends Harry Litwack and John Chaney highlight the spacious lobby.
Along the concourse is the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame that is worth a quick look. There is also an inflatable hoop to distract unruly kids.
A point for the mural of owl eyes behind the Cherry Zone.
A final point for the banners in the rafters going all the way back to 1939, as well as the banners in the ceiling of the concourse for the other AAC schools.
Liacouras Center scores well on our Fanfare Scale, as it is located in a great area with easy access and various food options inside (not to mention beer). The main problem is the relative calm of the crowd, but I am sure that this is more exciting when the Owls play a big-time school. If you are in the City of Brotherly Love, consider a visit here to help cheer on the Owls, who look to be a solid team again.
Member Review by JVerlin
When one thinks of the top programs in men's college basketball history, a few colleges rise to the top: Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, Temple. Temple? Yes, Temple, the former commuter school whose "Night Owl" students gave name to the school's mascot, is 6th all-time in NCAA Division I victories. Now, the 15,000 students who live on and around the North Philadelphia school's campus give Temple less of a commuter feel than a real city university, and they have a stadium to compete with any great mid-major in the country.
Built in 1997, the Peter J. Liacouras Center (formerly the Apollo of Temple) is a modern stadium that seats over 10,000 in the most competitive mid-major league in the country, the Atlantic 10.
Member Review by Rhode Warrior on Mar 02, 2012
Food and Beverage: A wide variety of food options are available, including beer! Food is pretty pricy for what you get though.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere varies widely depending on the opponent. Games against Big 5 opponents, particularly Villanova and and Saint Joe's, as well as upper tier A-10 teams such as Xavier bring out good crowds. For lesser opponents such as Fordham or GW, the atmosphere can be flat. The Wild Cherry student section (Cherry Crusade), however, is involved and keep things lively regardless of who the Owls are playing.
Neighborhood: Temple is located in North Philly, a wide expanse of run down ghetto and/or abandonedness. Temple's campus itself is generally well patrolled and safe, and extremely well lit after dark, but step a block or two off campus to the east (past 11th St) or west or north and you are putting yourself at serious risk. However, the campus is continuing to build and expand its tentacles and so hopefully the gentrification will continue.
Fans: The Cherry Crusade student section, despite the official review here, is good and unified, making its presence felt throughout the game. Point deductions are for the rest of the crowd which tends to be quiet most of the time, and for the fans disguised as empty seats.
Access: The Liacouras Center is conveniently located along North Broad St a few miles north of Center City. The Broad Street Subway line is conveniently nearby, but most people seem to drive here. Unfortunately the arena is not near any major highways, so if you come via Broad Street or any other street to get to Temple, there is a lot of stop and go. Many of roads that get you to Temple's campus, particularly coming from the east or west, go through very sketchy areas. Once you get there, there are garages and lots around the area for a fee, or you can try parking along the street, some parking along Broad St is metered, or you can try parking on the campus streets through it is pretty tight.
Return on investment: Temple basketball is the 6th winningest program in NCAA history, and has been a perennial Tournament team under John Chaney and now Fran Dunphy. Rumors continue to swirl that a move to the Big East is imminent. Tickets for Temple games range from $35 for lower level sideline seats, to $12 for upper level seats behind the basket. This is undoubtedly the most comfortable college basketball venue in Philly, unlike other schools in town, there are no bleachers here, every seat has a back and is cushioned. Depending on the game, odds are you'll be able to sneak down or move around without hassle. This the best bargain in the Philadelphia sports scene: a great product on the floor, a consistent winner and class act in coach Dunphy, an energetic student section. If the Big East move happens, this will become a much tougher ticket.
Extras: One point for selling beer, one point for the Wild Cherry student section, one point for the massive home court advantage (two home losses in the last 3 years), one point for coach Fran Dunphy, one point for having no bad seats in the house and the ability to move around unless the game is sold out. Subtract one point for the ticket buying process. The online ticketing system works fine, but has some pretty steep fees, and for big games or weekend matinees, the walkup lines at the ticket windows are painstakingly slow. You are best advised if purchasing tickets at the window to get there *at least* 15 minutes before tipoff.
Member Review by Richard Smith on Mar 16, 2015
Temple basketball is a gem of a basketball program hidden in the expanses of the big city of Philadelphia. They are sixth on the all-time basketball list, only behind the big boys of Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse and Kansas. The Owls have appeared in 31 NCAA Tournaments over the years.
John Chaney is the retired coach who led the team to many victories, and led the school to designate the court as John Chaney Court.
The university began as a commuter school. That is why their nickname is the Owls, so as to designate the "night owls" who used to attend the many night classes offered. The university has slowly morphed into a much more residential school, with much money and commitment coming together to enhance the school and the area around it.
The state-supported school (Temple gets funding from the state, but is not fully integrated within the Pennsylvania university system) is located in a sometimes rough-and-tumble neighborhood of North Philadelphia. Templetown, as the area is often designated, centers around Broad Street.
The Liacouras Center opened originally as the Apollo at Temple. Later the name was changed to recognize former Temple University President Peter Liacouras in 2000.
1431 Cecil B Moore Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19121
1527 Cecil B Moore Ave
Phialdelphia, PA 19121
1801 N Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19121
1801 N Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19121
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2628 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19146