The extent of Penn's investment in big-time sports in the 1920s is further evidenced by its indoor arena, the “Palestra,” a term devised by Penn classicist William Bates to invoke the place where Greek athletes prepared for competition. The court is a rectangle clearspanned by arched steel trusses that recall the industrial base of the culture that paid for sport while the exterior is a simplified Federal mode in the familiar red brick with light-hued cast stone. Long the home of “Big Five” basketball, the unique bragging rights league of local colleges, it is one of the preeminent halls of sport in the nation.
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