Temple’s top administrators and community officials reopened conversation with the Stadium Stompers last week when the parties — including President Richard Englert — met to discuss Temple’s proposed on-campus football stadium and other community concerns.
The Stadium Stompers, an activist group made up of North Philadelphia residents and students who are against the proposed on-campus stadium, met university officials with the assistance of Rep. Curtis Thomas and his office, said Jackie Wiggins, a member of the Stadium Stompers.
This is the first formal meeting between the Stadium Stompers and Temple’s president since the stadium discussion heated up in October 2015.
Thomas, who attended the meeting, told The Temple News there were several issues discussed, including the stadium, student trash, diversity at Temple and continued communication between the university and surrounding community.[symple_button url=”http://longform.temple-news.com/the-community-and-temple-exploring-a-complicated-relationship/” color=”blue” size=”large” border_radius=”3px” target=”self” rel=”” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]Read The Temple News’ in-depth exploration into the university’s relationship with the community[/symple_button]
Englert told those in the meeting that the university did not complete the $1.25 million feasibility study, so they could not discuss the stadium “with any specificity,” Thomas said.
The university approved funds for the feasibility study in February 2016. A year later, The Temple News confirmed the feasibility study was put on hold. At the time, the university’s official statement said that Temple was continuing its “community outreach efforts.”
Those efforts included invite-only Community Council meetings, however the stadium was not discussed, Bill Bergman, the vice president for public affairs, told The Temple News in May. Bergman was at the meeting last week.
The news came two months after Temple took the option to continue playing at Lincoln Financial Field for the 2018 season. This is the first of two extensions offered to the football program while the university considers the on-campus stadium.
“The only thing I thought was definitive was the university indicated they will be doing a stadium,” Thomas said. “Now, whether or not there will be a stadium at the proposed location, a feasibility study will speak to that.”
According to a Facebook post by the Stadium Stompers, Englert “made no commitment to halt the stadium plan, but the university is still deciding whether to move forward.”
The community’s position was that they did not want a stadium at the proposed location of 16th Street near Norris Street, Thomas added.
Wiggins said George Kenney, the vice president for government affairs, also attended the meeting last week.
Wiggins said she could not make any further comments until the Stadium Stompers hold their next meeting on Thursday.
According to the Stadium Stompers’ Facebook post, the group requested a “public open meeting” for all students and community residents to attend in the future.
Brandon Lausch, a university spokesman, wrote in an email that “there was a good exchange of information, and the meeting was very useful.”
The university continues to “engage with those residents who would likely be most affected if the stadium was built,” he wrote.
In April, The Temple News reported the organization spent several weeks planning a meeting with President Englert through Rep. Thomas’ office, but the meeting was canceled.
Lausch told The Temple News then that the university was “not aware” of the planned April meeting.
Anna Barnett, a Stadium Stompers organizer, told The Temple News in April that the organization has attempted to meet with the university several times since the organization’s formation.