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Report: On-campus stadium being discussed by BOT

Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor told the Inquirer Thursday an on-campus stadium is being discussed among university trustees.

UPDATE: A new report from the Inquirer Friday said the university is three-quarters of the way to its $100 million mark for an on-campus football stadium.

The goal for the opening of the new stadium is 2018, according to the report.

“I’m optimistic,” President Theobald told the Inquirer in a telephone interview Thursday night. “We’ve raised a lot of money, but stadiums are expensive, and we’re talking to a lot of people about it every day.”

According to the report, this funding comes from university donations, as well as an expected $20 million in capital funding from the state. This amount was originally committed to Temple by former Gov. Tom Corbett, and current Gov. Tom Wolf expects to honor the commitment.

“We have made no decisions about higher education capital project,” a spokesman for Wolf’s office told the Inquirer Friday.

The Temple News previously reported in August the university renewed its contract with the Philadelphia Eagles for the football team’s current home football stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, in August. The new contract, which was originally set to expire in 2017, gave the team two consecutive one-year options to play home games at the Linc in the 2018 and 2019.

Theobald told the Inquirer the university would have to use some of the money it currently is scheduled to pay the Eagles in order to use the Linc toward a bond issue for the new stadium.

“The question there is what’s best for Temple, what’s best for our student-athletes, what’s best for the game-day experience here on campus,” Theobald told The Temple News in August. “So we’re discussing it with the city. … It will be in the next year, making a decision one way or the other.”

Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor said the university’s goal to build an on-campus football stadium has received “some seven-figure commitments” for funding, according to a report from The Inquirer Thursday.

According to the report, a 35,000-seat stadium costing $100 million is being pursued for the northwest corner of Main Campus. The proposal will be discussed at the December Board of Trustees meeting.

“We are moving forward and exploring every option,” O’Connor told The Inquirer.

The Inquirer reported the potential stadium area is Geasey Field, home to the field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams. Athletic Director Pat Kraft told The Temple News in an interview last Wednesday both teams are confirmed to be moving to the old site of William Penn High School next fall. They will be joined by the men’s and women’s soccer teams and the track and field team.

O’Connor told The Inquirer the stadium would be used by more than just the football team.

“We want it for community events such as high school sporting events, along with concerts and academic purposes,” O’Connor told The Inquirer.

An athletic spokesperson declined to comment on the proposal. A university spokesman, however, confirmed the Inquirer report was accurate and added the discussion is still solely between university trustees.

“If you read anything I say, I would love to have a football stadium,” Kraft told The Temple News last week. “I think that from an athletic director’s perspective … I think it’d be great. I’ve seen it at my alma mater and all the places I’ve traveled to.”

Out of 12 American Athletic Conference teams, Temple’s proposed 35,000-seat stadium would be the fourth smallest with Navy, Tulane and Southern Methodist having smaller stadiums. The Owls’ current home stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, seats 69,194 and is the largest capacity stadium in The American.

Conference teams Tulane and Houston both opened stadiums in 2014. Tulane’s Yulman Stadium seats 30,000, and Houston’s Houston Football Stadium seats 40,000.

In the Owls’ three home games this season, the team drew crowds of 69,176 against Penn State and 35,179 against Tulane and 31,372 against Central Florida last Saturday.

“The Tulane crowd was awesome,” Kraft told The Temple News last Wednesday. “I think it was one of the best crowds since we’ve been here. You can get to 35,000, 40,000, and I think that’s where we are. If we can consistently do that, that’s great. … I want to maintain where we are at right now.”

“I think it would change some of the perception of Temple,” Kraft added. “It’s a social connector, and it bring a lot of folks here, and it brings a lot of people to campus because I think this should no longer be a hidden gem. … You can bring 35,000 people to a building and have them come walk through campus and boy, that’s fantastic. … If it was up to me, I’d be out there somewhere digging.”

Michael Guise and Owen McCue can be reached at news@temple-news.com or on Twitter @TheTempleNews.

Steve Bohnel contributed reporting.

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