The university is in “serious discussion” about a football stadium on Main Campus, President Neil Theobald said at a post-inaugural event in Center City Tuesday night.
Speaking in front of about 100 alumni at the Lowes Hotel during the second stop on his post-inaugural tour, Theobald said in response to a question about the prospects of a football stadium on Main Campus that the discussion surrounding it is part of Temple’s master plan, which the university is putting together through the Visualize Temple initiative. The university is expected to unveil its master plan next year.
“That plan will likely include, at some point, a football stadium,” Theobald said.
Temple currently plays at Lincoln Financial Field and Theobald said the Philadelphia Eagles are looking for an increase in rent, leading the university to explore an on-or-near-campus football stadium as well as a shared services agreement to use the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.
“My response is that we don’t really need 80,000 seats,” Theobald said. “Given the cost that they would like us to pay, we need to look at other options. We’re looking possibly on campus, possibly sharing with Penn. We’re going to need to answer that question.”
Theobald spoke for about 15 minutes and spend the next 40 minutes answering questions from alumni in the audience. Though he didn’t elaborate further on the potential of a football stadium at Temple, he addressed a wide range of issues including the commitments from his inaugural speech last month, the university’s role in aiding the School District of Philadelphia and the university’s support of non-revenue sports.
The president, who has consistently harped on student debt as the biggest issue facing the university, reiterated the importance of the problem and talked about how his administration has started to deal with the issue. Theobald cited the introduction of financial literacy courses and an increase financial aid as ways that the university has tried to keep the cost of education down during his first year in office.
“We are not going to able to succeed as a university unless we find a way to lower the amount of student debt that kids are taking on,” Theobald said. “Right now, that is easily the biggest problem we have.”
In response to a question about working with the School District, Theobald said he has met with Mayor Nutter and Superintendent William Hite to talk about what Temple can do to help the district.
“There is no more important issue to Temple University than K-12 education in Philadelphia,” Theobald said.”We are the public university, we’ve got to make sure this gets fixed.”
Theobald also tackled the issue of attendance at athletic events and funding for non-revenue sports by putting the two subjects into the same realm.
“The best way to generate revenue for the non-revenue sports is for those that do generate revenue to have greater attendance,” Theobald said. “The two are closely related.”
The president cited a need to market football and basketball more effectively to make it an “experience” and said the major focus of the university is to encourage more students to attend sporting events.
While addressing funding, he also emphasized that the university would not take money out of the general fund for athletics and that anything that happens in athletics needs to stay in athletics.
“There are universities that are really almost in an arms race as far as how much money they’re putting in athletics,” Theobald said. “We will not be part of that.”
The president’s post-inaugural tour started last week at an event in New York City and the tour is expected to last until May. The events are being held in Chicago, San Diego and Washington D.C., among other cities, and his next stop is on Dec. 3 in the Pennsylvania suburbs.
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.