Armory aids in Drexel's expansion

April 17, 2008 2:37:14 PM PDT
The Pennsylvania National Guard Armory will be undergoing a major transformation to help Drexel University continue its growth.

(NOTE: In an earlier version of this story, Action News erroneously reported that Drexel purchased Hahnemann Hospital. In fact, Drexel University is an academic partner with Hahnemann Hospital. Drexel owns and operates Hahnemann's School of Medicine, but the hospital itself is a separate entity. It is owned by Tenet.)

With the ceremonial stroke of two pens, the government agreed to lease a major portion of the National Guard Armory to Drexel University for 50 years. Five National Guard units will still share the armory's annex with a military museum and Drexel's ROTC program. But Drexel will transform the drill hall in the center of the 21,000 square foot facility at 33rd and Market into a state of the art basketball arena.

Drexel graduate student Addie Spector says, "It's a huge step for Drexel. It's definitely going to bring more people out to basketball games. And I think it's going to give the whole university a new look... and new outlook, especially in the sports area."

The armory has been home to Pennsylvania National Guard troops for nearly a century and more recently to floats being prepared for the Thanksgiving Day parade. In a few years it will house Drexel sports and recreation.

"This is going to be a great venue to come see concerts, watch games, have speakers," says Robert Falcone, a student at Drexel.

The armory deal is part of Drexel's 5-year, $500-million expansion plan. It features 10 projects, including two athletic centers, two dorms, and a new academic building. The university, once known primarily for its sciences, plans to open a law school.

Drexel University President Constantine Papadakis tells Action News, "We have experienced incredible growth and quality improvement that has been remarkable."

Graduate student Jim Kenyon says, "Just with the new renovations, the technology that Drexel has brought here. It's just going to attract more students."

Even with all the growth that's underway, Drexel's expansion is not nearing an end. The university is exploring ways to open satellite campuses as far away as California and Texas.