Future Sites: Expansion of the Daskalakis Athletic Center

One of the projects in the 2007 Master Plan, conversion of the Armory to a Convocation Center and Arena, proved too costly to execute.  This alternative, expanding the Daskalakis Athletic Center to create a basketball arena by incorporating new locker rooms, re-orienting the court, and increasing seating, is superior in the sense that it is less expensive to build and continues the use of the Armory for recreation.  What follows are selected images from the feasibility study by Friday Architects:

Seating 3000, with standing room for 500 and floor seating for another 1500, this expansion will give the Dragons an arena befitting CAA competition.

 

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39 thoughts on “Future Sites: Expansion of the Daskalakis Athletic Center”

  1. As much as I still think renovating the Armory would be great for Drexel – this proposed renovation is really exciting. It give the basketball team a much deserved arena, and it updates an incredibly unattractive and centralized portion of the campus. I really hope this happens.

  2. Looks good. It’s good to know there are options for the University. It would be great to see the DAC expand to meet 34th Street, utilizing some of that dead space. One minor point: The plan shows a redirection of Lancaster walk, which would seem both unnatural and undesirable.

  3. It’s a shame there cant be rows of seats behind the baskets, as this would look better, even in front of TV cameras. However, I guess you can’t have everything.

  4. I agree with both points assessed by Tom and George, Indeed it would be more natural for the DAC to expand towards 34th street, and that the DAC would lose some of its charm if there were no seats behind the basket. As a member of the “DAC Pack” the seats behind the baskets provide a truly unique vantage point for the game and losing those seats would undesirable in my eyes. Although I am all for expanding the DAC, seating on all four sides of the court is more important than adding seats.

  5. I’m not sold on this expansion and it seems like a complete waste of money to me. The DAC needs an upgrade, or to be replaced completely, but I’m not sure if it’s worth spending so much money for a plan that’s only going to offer marginal improvements. After completion, the the seating capacity will still be the smallest in Philadelphia and by far the smallest in the CAA. Drexel will still have a difficult time bringing in marquee opponents. And it may not be enough to “wow” prospective recruits into wanting to play for Drexel. Since the Armory project didn’t work out, it seems to me that Drexel should be taking advantage of the space across from 30th Street Station to build a first class 8,000 seat arena that could bring in major entertainment for crowds too small for the Wells Fargo Center. It could also be used to host Drexel’s commencement. The school needs a major convocation center, and seems like it’s worth the investment to build a first class arena from scratch, rather than trying to fix something up that has limited upside.

  6. This is a disappointment and a waste of money. A 3,000 seat arena is unacceptable for this for this size university. This is not a solution!!!

  7. The DAC was a barely adequate building for a program cutting its teeth moving up to Division 1 in the 1970s, became woefully inadequate by the end of our run in the AE and is now a joke among CAA venues. While wonderfully quirky, the DAC has done its job of nursing a program to the point where it can stand on its own, and spending unknown millions to rotate it 90 degrees and add 500 seats will not magically turn it into “an arena befitting CAA competition.” In fact, it seems like a colossal waste of money. Drexel needs a presence in Philadelphia, and keeping the basketball arena tucked midblock away from the major east-west spine of the city seems counterproductive. How many cars drive by the front of the now Recreation Center and have no idea that one of the stronger programs in a conference that has sent 2 teams to the Final Four in the past 5 years plays there? Drexel needs to find a way to get a 5000-6500 seat arena financed and built along the elevated line where the Philadelphia Parking Authority is located today. This location is a block from a Regional Rail hub (both locally with SEPTA and nationally with AMTRAK) and is served by the NW entrance to the 30th Street Subway station served by the Market Frankford Line and the Subway/Surface Trolley lines. At a 5000-6500 seat capacity you could bring in entertainment acts that are too small for the Wells Fargo Center and also lose some of the stigma of that the North Philadelphia address of the Liacouras Center may bring. Combine this with the planned mixed-use development around the rest of the Parking Authority site and the parking lots along JFK, and you could create a vibrant entertainment hub for the community and university.

      1. Is there any way the “improved arena seating” mentioned in the press release on the donation will include an increase in capacity to around 4000-5000 range? The CAA is in the midst of conference realignment and every top team in the conference is being mentioned in discussions except Drexel. Many non-Drexel people believe that our current facilities, aka the DAC, are really holding us back in terms of upgrading our current athletic standing. Improving to a decent sized facility with seat backs and air conditioning would greatly improve fan attendance thus increasing visibility and recognition within the local, regional, and national markets.

      2. http://www.newsday.com/sports/college/stony-brook/stony-brook-to-begin-21-1m-arena-renovation-1.3728108

        Would it be too cost-inefficient to renovate the DAC into a similar version of this arena under construction by Stony Brook? I believe enough alum and student financial donations could be gained by having a clear cut plan with this project with design inputs from leaders of the DAC Pack to create the ultimate Drexel Athletic watching experience. Also, as noted below, the far proximity of the Vidas Athletic Complex is hindering some interest in the non-revenue sports at Drexel, as most people are not willing to venture so far off campus to catch a game or two. Moving these spaces closer to campus will bring an increase in school spirit as students can now take a break from work watching some games instead of staying in their rooms or sitting around outside.

  8. Many thanks to the folks that reply to our comments here. As you can see, there is a lot of passion for this particular project. Overall, the master plan look incredible. Well done. I think some of the comments here represent the only disappointment some of us have, which is to build an athletic & convocation center, comparable to Drexel’s peer institutions.

    1. Adding to this, it seems like everything else in the master plan is aiming big with fervent ambition, something that exemplifies this university, except for this particular project, especially for something that would enable much more positive publicity and interest among current students, prospective students, and people not affiliated with the Drexel community.

      1. That’s a good way of pointing it Mark. To go a step further, I wish there were plans to bring the Vidas Athletic Complex (at 43rd Street) closer to campus. Consolidating the athletic facilities closer to 30th and Market could contribute to 1) the “city engagement” street-theme and 2) “drawing the community together around a shared place” strategy. The current location feels completely disconnected from the University. Moving it closer to 30th street would enliven a current “dead zone” with weekend and weeknight activity.

  9. Also, if funding is an issue would the following suggestion a Drexel alumni proposed be feasible?

    “As far as an arena, take it to the students first. The students voted for the fee to help build the Rec Center, see if there is support for an arena and at what cost. A $300 increase for 5 years with the projected rise in attendance would generate about $40 million. If the students are on board, go for the alumni. Drexel has an 18% alumni giving rate; with 130,000 alumni that comes out to be 23,400. If you could get 5,000 of them to commit to $100/mo for 5 years that gives you another $30 million. Then go for the naming rights and other larger gifts and the university can fill in the rest. If the support isn’t there no big deal, but it seems if the will is there to do it a way could be found to raise the money.”

  10. Are there any plans to renovate the DAC with the gift received for this upcoming season? I have heard the some of the complaints in scheduling stem from other schools not wanting to play at our arena because it is extremely subpar.

  11. “Why Drexel needs a new 8,000 seat arena…not a renovated DAC.

    1. Opportunity to THINK BIG for once. Drexel isn’t in the Big 5, because back in the 1950’s, Drexel Athletics had a small time mentality and participated in Small College athletic programs, while their city neighbors had big time athletic programs. In the 1980’s, Drexel played Division I sports, and shared the ECC conference with three Big 5 teams. Unlike Drexel, those three teams thought big and moved to major conferences. Drexel thought small and rotted in the ECC for years and then the NAC. For once, they have the opportunity to think BIG. For once, Drexel has the chance to do something better than the other colleges in the city and build the nicest college basketball arena in the area. It could be an arena that other city schools would want to rent out for big games. It could be so nice that even Villanova would want to play there. It would be located on land that Drexel owns, at the former Bulletin Building site across from 30th Street Station.

    2. Basketball Programs’ Perception Improves. Perception in college basketball can be directly related to the building that a team plays in. At Drexel, attendance is very low at basketball games because of the small time perception around the campus and city that is a result of playing in a small time “high school gym”. If you build a nice, big, new arena, Drexel’s small time perception goes away, and Drexel’s average attendance could improve drastically. It may improve enough to fill up the arena at first, but the advantages of an 8,000 seat arena clearly outweigh the playing in front of some empty seats. But who knows, if the perception improves, the team gets better, and more fans show up regularly. Maybe one day Drexel is playing in a major conference. But it can only happen in a nicer, larger sized arena, not a renovated DAC. The capacity may be more that Drexel needs for basketball, but they are necessary for Drexel to think beyond just basketball.

    3. Philadelphia needs a new mid-size arena – Now that the Spectrum is gone, Philadelphia lacks the mid-size multi-purpose arena to bring in sports and entertainment events that are too big for other city arenas but too small for the Wachovia Center. Drexel has the opportunity to partner with an arena management company such as Comcast Spectacor to bring in over a hundred of events a year beyond Drexel Basketball. Temple has a nice arena, but it’s in a terrible location that’s difficult to access via car or public transportation. This new arena could steal events from Temple. It’s could also be possible for some minor league sports teams to call this new arena home. There are so many events that are moving from Philadelphia to Trenton and Camden because the city doesn’t have a good place to host them. Here is an opportunity to keep more sporting and entertainment events in Philadelphia.

    4. Best Location in Philadelphia – The land that I propose is right across the river from Center City, and right across the street from Philadelphia’s AMTRAK hub, and a major SEPTA station. Anybody can access 30th and Market via Public Transportation from almost anywhere on the east coast. And 30th Street Station has new parking garages. It’s also located right at the merge of I-76 and I-676. There’s probably no better place in Philadelphia for a sports and entertainment venue.

    5. Drexel does not have an acceptable Convocation Center. – There is currently no acceptable place to have a campus-wide graduation or other major events. The current graduation format and location in the DAC is pretty embarrassing. The new arena could host the perfect graduation ceremony for Drexel. Also, imagine if Drexel hosted Open Houses to potential students at a nice arena. High school students say WOW. Parents say WOW. Applications increase. Quality of students increases. Academic standards increase. Win…Win for EVERYBODY.

    6. Beer Sales – I have to fit this in somewhere. I’m not 100% certain, but I believe that the proposed location on the Bulletin building site is technically “off-campus”, yet close enough for students to walk to. Just like at the Liocorous Center at Temple, this arena could potentially sell beer. It’s been proven that many sports fans are willing to pay $8 for a $1 beer at a sporting event. This has the opportunity to be a real money make for the university and can help offset the arena’s operating costs.

    7. Conclusion – Drexel clearly has the opportunity to do something great. A renovated DAC would be a result of the same small-time mentality that Drexel’s athletic departments have had for several generations and won’t do much for the long term success of athletic departments and the university as a whole. The only way that Drexel Athletics can truly succeed in the 21st Century is to build a facility that’s better than what everybody else has. The opportunity is here. Somebody just needs to take charge and try to make it work. I don’t have the resources or ability to do it, but there has to be leaders in the University and Philadelphia who should at least examine in depth whether my idea can be a reality.

  12. If DU could swing a Market Street new arena (8K capacity) it would be a real coup and put DU on the map. That would trump the Armory renovation that never happened. Visibility of Market Street and a real big time college arena = $$$ and NCAA invites thanks to better recruits, more school spirit, and TV. Just do it (before I die please). Besides, Bruiser needs something to be proud of… he deserves it!

  13. The FY2013 Goals as outlined by the Drexel administration themselves placed a date of phase II (arena level renovation) of the DAC at July 2013. Is this still on schedule to happen? I know there have been a few renderings and drawings thrown out and discussed, but nothing substantial. There seems to be no transparency regarding this project. The fans are interested in what is happening and can provide some very useful insight.

  14. I must say that it is very disappointing for the second largest school in Philly to have such a lack of transparency regarding a project that many students and alumni passionately support. Unfortunately, instead of optimally increasing the size and capacity of the arena to at least 5,000 seats, Drexel is choosing the easy way out and increasing to 3,200. These renovations aren’t even worth it if that’s the planned size of the new arena.

    It’s not just about basketball, either. Why not attract other events by having a cozy, yet large enough arena within walking distance to Center City? Plus, it’s about time we have a nice place to hold graduation at.

    If we had an actual arena, maybe I wouldn’t have to hear St. Joe’s fans say “How do we get out of this high school gym?” the next time they come here. How embarrassing.

  15. It’s all talk for now, and every day that passes moves the ultimate goal (DU EXPOSURE = a better facility to attracting better student athletes) more into the future. Every day delay sets Drexel behind as other schools (and recruits) move on. Please JUST MAKE A DECISION AND DO SOMETHING! And THINK BIG…please.
    If a new big time Market Street Arena was seriously being considered I am sure the money would flow in to support it. Lesser schools have done more with less.

  16. Drexel has over $400 million worth of debt, and can barely SELL 600 tickets a game. Why would the university go into further debt to build an expensive Market Street Arena? Do people believe that UNC-W, Hofstra, JMU, and Towson will fill a 2,500+ venue?

    If Georgetown does not have the resources to construct an arena in a major metropolitan city, Drexel certainly can not construct a 6,500+ arena on Market St.

  17. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?

    I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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  19. So what WILL be the physical changes to the DAC for next basketball season? How about some specifics and some pictures maybe…

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