As ongoing talks among university administration and the Board of Trustees about a proposed on-campus stadium continue, it remains unclear who has donated toward the estimated $126 million project.
President Theobald told The Temple News last month that 21 alumni have donated to the stadium. He declined to give names, saying they would become public once donors have officially signed agreements to donate money.
In February, Theobald said the original goal for fundraising was $20 million, but changed to $50 million after the university “blasted by” that figure. The state has also pledged $20 million toward the project, he said.
“We’ll save $3 million in the first seven years by building a stadium on campus against what we pay now,” he said. “That’s funds available [for] scholarships, other buildings, community programs, all of the things we spend money on.”
Jim Dicker, vice president of institutional advancement, is in charge of fundraising for the proposed stadium.
“Prior to [the board meeting Feb. 8], I would have what we categorize as ‘exploratory conversations’ with what I call leadership donors, so these are the people who have the ability to give more than $100,000,” he said.
Dicker added the university has about $11 million in commitments from 21 people, most of which are not confirmed in writing. The names have not been publicized because the project is still in the preliminary stages.
“The last thing you want to do is get out ahead of the community by advertising big gifts for a project that they don’t even know is really going to happen yet,” he said.
Dicker added these conversations will continue for the next six months, while the university looks to acquire zoning approvals and support from city government. If the project is approved, then fundraising will become a “broad-based effort” in order to acquire more donors.
Everyone who has pledged money will only donate if the project is approved, Dicker said.
“It’s a little bit of a chicken and an egg,” he said. “From a fundraising standpoint, you can’t wait until the project is 100 percent blessed and approved and ready to go, because you won’t have enough time [to fundraise].”
One donor, who Dicker declined to name, could give more than the $11 million others have pledged.
“These are wealthy, private people,” he said. “Even after the gift is confirmed, they don’t want publicity, they don’t want people to know who they are. So that’s a delicate part of the conversation.”
“If somebody wants to remain anonymous, we would do everything we could do to protect the anonymity,” he added.
If the project is approved, the university would start searching for more alumni, friends, season ticket holders and other individuals for “gifts at all levels,” Dicker said. There would be thousands of people who would give to the stadium’s construction, he added.
The stadium could cause many alumni to donate to the university for the first time, Dicker said.
“I think it will be a project that has a broad appeal to a lot of people,” he said. “I think it will really help us expand our donor base and the alumni who support the school … it’s a nice opportunity to bring new alumni donors into the fold.”
“The goal would be, you bring new donors into the pipeline who are interested in the stadium, and then you get them interested in all the wonderful things that are happening here, whether it’s the academic program or the library, or something in arts,” Dicker added. “You have a much better chance of renewing a donor for something then getting them to give for the first time.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.