PHILADELPHIA, PA – US Squash and Drexel University announced their agreement to enter into a long-term sublease allowing US Squash to invest $27 million to transform the 32nd Street Armory into a national center to serve the U.S. squash community.
Funding for this historic project has been made possible through the vision and generosity of supporters from around the country, spearheaded by a leadership gift from Tracey and Shanin Specter. The facility will be named the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in honor of Shanin’s late father Arlen, the longest-serving US Senator from the State of Pennsylvania who was called the “most dedicated squash player on Capitol Hill” due to his devotion to the game. Specter reflected: “My father knew the great value of squash and would be thrilled that his association with the sport will endure forever.”
US Squash President & CEO Kevin Klipstein affirmed the historic role of the new center in saying, ”the Specter Center will have the most significant and enduring impact on the sport of any initiative in US Squash’s 114-year history. The center will serve as the anchor and home for our core programs directly in support of our mission, and will also allow us to innovate for the 21st century as we pilot initiatives to dramatically expand access to squash locally, regionally and nationally.”
Located just two blocks from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, the Specter Center will feature eighteen singles courts—including two all-glass exhibition courts—and two doubles courts, serve as US Squash’s national headquarters, the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame, house a Learning & Innovation Center and offer elite athletes state-of-the-art development resources including a Coaching Excellence Center and coordination with Drexel University’s robust capabilities as a major Division I athletic program. The Specter Center’s final design phase is underway and plans call for the Specter Center to open with the hosting of the U.S. Open Squash Championships in October 2020.
“Nearly a decade ago the US Squash Board recognized the broad impact a national center could have for the game in the U.S.” notes US Squash Board Chair Marshall Pagon, “The Specter Center will turn this vision into reality, and once completed will substantially enhance our capacity to develop meaningful programs and deliver world-class experiences for the squash community. We are deeply grateful to the donors who have shown such generous support thus far, especially the leadership and vision of Tracey and Shanin Specter, as well as our long-time organizational partner Drexel University.”
“We are thrilled to extend our longstanding partnership with US Squash to help bring a national squash center to a city where the sport’s roots run deep,” said John Fry, Drexel President. “This world-class facility will be a treasure for the city, a boon to its economy and a place for all Philadelphians to pick up a racket and play a lifetime sport that is one of the fastest-growing in the country.”
The Specter Center will serve as a model for community engagement and access for urban youth and public school programming. The Learning & Innovation Center will be run in partnership with SquashSmarts, the local squash and education program, and will broaden access and exposure to squash impacting thousands of school-age children across the Philadelphia community.
The facility will also act as the primary host for a significant number of U.S. Championships, elevating the tournament experience for players and fans. Within a 3-block radius are also seven courts at Drexel’s Kline & Specter Squash Center and an additional twelve new courts currently under renovation at the University of Pennsylvania.
Specter Center Executive Director Ned Edwards reflected on the impact of the new facility, “The Specter Center will be the most innovative squash facility in the world. It will drive every piece of US Squash’s programming does to new heights, including grassroots and community programming, education and enforcement on standards of sportsmanship and fair play, education of coaches and officials, hosting of world-class events, and elite training for Team USA. The center will advance US Squash’s pursuit of excellence by providing the organization a home, and a place to create a winning culture and love for the game, and will serve as the most inclusive, community-oriented squash space in the world.”