March Madness is returning to Philadelphia — and Penn is hosting it.
In 2022, that is, after the NCAA announced that the University of Pennsylvania would host the East Regional games at the Wells Fargo Center downtown.
It’s been 60 years since Penn last hosted the East Regionals in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, when the Palestra saw March Madness played out under its roof for four straight years in 1954-57. The Palestra also hosted the regional one other time in 1939.
That being said, the East Regional in 2022 will be held at the Wells Fargo Center, as the demand for tickets will far exceed the 8,700 seats in the Palestra. The Wells Fargo Center can hold 21,600 people for basketball games.
“The University of Pennsylvania is delighted to partner with the NCAA, PHL Sports and the Wells Fargo Center to bring March Madness back to Philadelphia,” Penn’s Director of Athletics, Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, said in a press release. “Community matters is a core value of Penn Athletics, and hosting events like this, along with the Penn Relays and the inaugural Ivy League Basketball Tournaments, provides the opportunity to bring sports fans together in Philadelphia. We look forward to hosting a first-class event in 2022.”
Previously, the Wells Fargo Center has hosted a number of NCAA Tournament games, including the 2016 East Regionals, so the administration of the arena will be happy that the wait won’t be long to see March Madness come back.
“We are thrilled to be hosting the 2022 NCAA Men’s East Regional at the Wells Fargo Center,” Comcast Spectacor’s John Page, President of the Wells Fargo Complex said in a press release. “The arena was designed to lure big-time events to Philadelphia and it continues to live up to its reputation. We have an outstanding history with the NCAA and we’re excited that we’ll be able to continue creating memories for the student athletes, their fans and the city of Philadelphia. We look forward to working closely with the University of Pennsylvania, PHL Sports and the NCAA in making the 2022 Men’s East Regional a great event for everyone.”
Having more March Madness in Philadelphia can hardly hurt, with the successful advent of the Ivy League Basketball Tournaments last month proving that the city is ready for more basketball. Penn men’s basketball lost to eventual NCAA Tournament contestants Princeton in an overtime heartbreaker, denying them the chance to make it to the Big Dance for the first time since 2007.
But with a potential home court advantage dangling in front of them in 2022, if they haven’t made it back to the tourney by then, it just might be the carrot they need to make their long-awaited return.
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