For the first time ever, one of Philadelphia sports' crown jewels now has a different name.
Penn announced Tuesday that it sold the naming rights to the court at the Palestra to Macquarie, a global financial conglomerate whose American arm is headquartered in Philadelphia. The name of the building isn't changing, but when you go to games there, you'll hear the public address announcer say "Macquarie Court at the Palestra."
It's a multiyear deal that will boost the Penn basketball teams' budgets, and boost a range of community service programs that the athletic department runs. Athletic director Grace Calhoun wouldn't disclose the amount of money changing hands, or the exact length of the deal, but she did call it "far and away the largest sponsorship Penn athletics has entered into, and one that we feel is really going to visibly change the way we're able to sponsor our programs."
Calhoun acknowledged that selling the floor of a venue often hailed as college basketball's most historic gym was not an easy decision. And she knows there's a backlash among longtime fans of not just the Quakers, but the rest of the Big 5.
"We felt that taking this next step was a really strategic step in terms of not only generating the extra resources to reinvest in the programs, but also finding a partner that stands for a lot of the same things that we do," she said. "We were clear with JMI [the agency that handles marketing and rights deals for Penn's athletic department] that it would take the right partner that we felt really good about to want to give away that asset … We will never name the Palestra anything other than the Palestra. There are things like that which we just won't do. But we felt a wonderful step forward was to do, as we've done, the Macquarie Court at the Palestra."