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  • Richard Smith

Daskalakis Athletic Center – Drexel Dragons

Photos by Richard Smith Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Daskalakis Athletic Center 3333 Market St Philadelphia, PA 19104

Year Opened: 1975

Capacity: 2,509


The Power of the Penn

Right down the street from the University of Pennsylvania’s amazing Palestra is another Division I basketball arena that gets much less fanfare. The Daskalakis Athletic Center that the Drexel Dragons play in is literally within walking distance from basketball greatness, and although a nice arena, it seems far from the Palestra on the basketball royalty scale.

Drexel is the “other” Division I school in the Philadelphia area. It is not a part of the Big 5 that consists of the University of Pennsylvania, La Salle University, Saint Joseph’s University, Temple University, and Villanova University. It is instead part of the “City 6,” which is all of the Philadelphia Big 5 schools along with Drexel, that plays informally, as well as being an inter-city intramural competition. Drexel University is a private research university founded in 1891.

Its founder is its namesake, financier, and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel. Its original name was the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry. The Dragon has been the mascot of the school since around the mid-1920s. Before becoming known as the Dragons, the athletic teams had been known by such names as the Blue & Gold, the Engineers, and the Drexelites. Their mascot, “Mario the Magnificent,” is named in honor of alumnus and Board of Trustees member Mario V. Mascioli.

The Daskalakis Athletic Center, which opened in 1975, is home to multiple Drexel University Dragons sports teams including basketball and wrestling. The overall building houses gyms, a natatorium, a rock climbing wall, and a squash canter although the “DAC” generally refers solely to the basketball arena. Since 2012 there have been many renovations and changes to the seating sections of the arena.

Food & Beverage 2

The food options at the DAC are pretty basic. A concession stand sits outside the entrance to the arena. Do not expect anything besides the usual simple offerings. Hot dogs ($2.50) and pretzels ($3) are the best bet. There are also nachos ($5), funnel cake ($5), pizza ($3), and churros ($3).

Atmosphere 4

Four sets of stands surround the basketball court. Each stand section is made up a little bit differently from the others. All of the seats are close to the action. It is also one of the rare arenas that have basketball hoops hanging from the ceiling instead of being a freestanding base. That does give a little better view of the action if you are seated behind the baskets.

The student section on the south stands is called “The DAC Pack.” They tend to stand the whole game and provide a pretty good and loud atmosphere for games. Depending on the game, the stands in this area may be full or fairly empty. I get a sense it is not very consistent. There is also a very good pep band, as well as cheerleaders and a dance squad to enhance the surroundings. Drexel’s mascot Mario the Magnificent is also around to delight kids.

Neighborhood 5

The Daskalakis Athletic Center is located in a unique section of Philadelphia called University City. It is not just the Drexel University located here, but the University of Pennsylvania is right next door. It is quite a sight to see two Division I schools separated by just a street. Penn has a massive campus and the Ivy League school is worth a walk around to see the many historical buildings (check out Locust Walk for the best tour). If you want to touch upon your inner Ivy, stop by the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, which is right near both The Palestra and Franklin Field on the east side of campus.

University City also provides a decent mix of bars and restaurants and the best ones are found along a trendy row of brick buildings on Sansom Street. The New Deck Tavern is a fun, Irish-style pub, while the White Dog Café is a little more upscale with incredibly delicious food using a menu featuring only local ingredients. If you’re in the mood for Asian, University City has plenty of options with many different countries represented.

Just a mile or two down Walnut Street is the center of Philadelphia, where there is plenty to check out.

Independence National Park includes the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center, and Independence Hall. Other great museums surround the Park, while in the heart of the city; it is worth seeing City Hall and JFK Plaza, where the famous “LOVE” sign is located. For a cheesesteak, Steve’s Prince of Steaks on 16th and Chestnut is a fine choice for an authentic Philly specialty.

Fans 3

The DAC Pack, even when not filling their section is still pretty loud. The arena is pretty small so the sound fills it up pretty nicely. The arena does not fill often, but it is small enough that you might want to plan for some big games, especially if it is a CAA rival or Big 5/City 6 team matchup.

Access 2

University City is not difficult to get to; however, parking can be an issue in the area. The best option is the parking garage at Chestnut and 34th Street. Finding a spot on the nearby streets is a possibility too, depending on game time and day.

The Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) is the best way to arrive at campus and for reaching the garage get off I-76 at Exit 345. This brings drivers onto Drexel’s adjoining campus, and it is fairly easy to get to the garage from there. The other option to arrive at Penn is by using SEPTA, the mass transit system around Philly. There is a subway line (MFL) that stops right at 34th Street, which is within walking distance of the arena.

Return on Investment 3

Generally, tickets are $20 each. That is slightly pricey, except the arena is located in a large metropolitan city. If you have to pay for parking expect your outlay to be a bit more.

Extras 2

The CAA is a very good basketball conference with some very good basketball rivals. So expect to see a high caliber of play consistently throughout the schedule. Also, make sure to visit the Drexel Dragon Hall Of Fame in the lobby entrance that runs from Market Street towards the back of the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Final Thoughts

The Daskalakis Athletic Center is a nice arena, but being so close to the Palestra makes the facility seem a bit of a letdown. Even though Drexel is not part of the Big 5, fans will still see some great action in this small, loud arena.

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