The Arlen Specter US Squash Center held an official grand opening celebration Saturday, October 2, 2021 in Philadelphia. The ceremony, held during the 2021 U.S. Open Squash Championships presented by Truist, formally unveiled the world’s largest community squash center.
The Specter Center anchors the US Squash Community Affiliate Network, and joins existing Community Affiliate partners in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Virginia, Harlem, Newport, San Diego and Portland, Maine that share best practices and models to welcome and integrate people of all playing abilities, ages, faiths, and multicultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“We are excited to open the Specter Center and begin working closely with the community to realize our vision of ensuring everyone is able to enhance their health and well-being through squash,” said Kevin Klipstein, President & CEO of US Squash. “The Specter Center proudly stands alongside facilities expanding access to the sport nationwide. We are fortunate to be located in the heart of a diverse and dynamic neighborhood in which we can provide access to thousands of new players, and we look forward to bringing visitors and athletes from around the country and the world to Philadelphia.”
The Specter Center is housed in the historic Pennsylvania State Armory Building on Drexel University’s campus and Philadelphia’s burgeoning University City. As the new home of squash in the U.S, the 20-court facility also houses the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame, a high-performance training center for Team USA athletes, the US Squash National Headquarters, and a Learning & Innovation Center through which SquashSmarts will expand its intensive out-of-school academic and athletic mentoring program. The Specter Center will host numerous local, national and international competitions throughout the year, and will field the country’s first public school squash league with ten new school teams from throughout the city of Philadelphia.
The Specter Center’s opening during the U.S. Open marks ten years of partnership between Drexel University and US Squash that first brought the event to Philadelphia. The U.S. Open has been hosted in Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center since 2011 until moving just across 33rd Street into its permanent home at the Specter Center.
The grand opening ceremony opened with a stirring rendition of the national anthem performed by Cameryn Strickland, a student at The University of the Arts, followed by Klipstein reading a congratulatory letter from President Joe Biden on the opening of the center and its naming in honor of his close friend and colleague, the late Senator Arlen Specter. Read President Biden’s letter in its entirety here.
Soo Venkatesan, the Chair of the Board of US Squash, spoke about three traits common to all squash players—including and especially Arlen Specter himself: “They are generous, tenacious and passionate,” she said, “and that is why we are able to open such a spectacular national center. And the center is about bringing in more of those people, a place for people who don’t yet know they are squash players—yet.”
The ceremony featured several video segments highlighting the impact that the Specter Center will have on the local community, and on the sport nationwide. In addition to Klipstein and Venkatesan, in-person speakers included John Fry, President of Drexel University; Jamie Gauthier, Councilmember of the City of Philadelphia; Dwight Evans, U.S. Congressman for the 3rd district of Pennsylvania; and Shanin Specter, founding partner of Kline & Specter, P.C. and son of Arlen Specter.
Before handing over the ribbon-cutting for the facility to a cross section of members of the Specter Center community and Sakora Miller, Specter Center Senior Manager of Community Squash Programming, Shanin Specter concluded the remarks for the evening. “This is a great night for America,” he said. “This is a great night for Philadelphia. This is a great night for everyone. My father, if he was here tonight, would say, ‘Let’s play squash.’”
Watch a replay of the grand opening ceremony broadcast on the US Squash Youtube channel.