The Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously approved allocating $1 million for a study into the design and environmental impact of an on-campus football stadium, and choosing an architect within 30 days. This is the Board’s first time investing money in pursuit of an on-campus stadium. The Board projects the project would cost $126 million.
After about 40 minutes of public comment from nine neighborhood residents and one local developer, the Board approved the resolution with no opposing votes to hire an architect for the proposed site—bounded by Broad Street to the east, Norris Street to the North, 16th Street on the west and Montgomery Avenue on the south.
President Theobald, presenting slides about design and “North Broad Street revival” during the meeting, added a new caveat to ongoing discussion about the stadium: retail space along Broad Street and Montgomery Avenue. He said talks have suggested a retail area similar to that surrounding Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox’ stadium.
During the meeting, as many as 90 protesters who oppose the construction of the stadium surrounded Sullivan Hall, which was lined with Temple Police and crowd control barriers. Trustees and media were escorted into the building through a side entrance.
In a press scrum following the meeting, Theobald said the university will appoint a task force this week consisting of students, faculty and staff to discuss further potential uses for the stadium. Those uses would include football games for community teams and other unspecified events, he said.
“At this point, we just know: stadium, and retail, with construction in 2017,” Theobald said. “The goal is to use that stadium every day.”
Public comment, save for that from developer and alumnus John Longacre, was largely anti-stadium.
Among the nine residents was Guadalupe Portillo, who lives on Norris Street near 15th and works as a custodian for Temple. She addressed the board in her work uniform, and said her neighbors had criticized the university for not being “mindful” of the community members who oppose the stadium.
“You have not bothered to have any meetings with them or talk to them about this proposal of this stadium,” Portillo said. “We are in a gridlock situation there as it is, you know there is a gridlock with parking, with the trash area around here.”
Other members addressed gentrification and a Yorktown coalition voiced opposition to a separate building plan that would see soccer, lacrosse and club sports fields built at the site of William Penn High School at Broad and Master streets.
Following the meeting, a reporter asked Chairman Patrick O’Connor to respond to community concerns.
“We’re going to ensure that labor building the stadium is representative [of the community,]” O’Connor said. “We are not insensitive to where we live and who we are. I hope we use the fields to mentor and train community kids.”
“I would not authorize this as a board member for just five freakin’ football games a year.”
Read The Temple News tomorrow in print and online for more on the protests and the meeting.
Joe Brandt and EJ Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheTempleNews.