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University extends rental agreement with Eagles

Added to the lease while the university evaluates the feasibility of an on-campus stadium, the two consecutive one-year options mean the Owls could play at Lincoln Financial Field in 2018 and 2019.

Temple and the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday extended a rental agreement for use of Lincoln Financial Field, giving the university’s football team two consecutive one-year options to play home games at the stadium in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Temple’s original lease with the Eagles — guaranteeing six home games at the nearly 70,000-seat stadium at about $1 million a season — was set to expire in 2017.

Financial terms for the option years weren’t immediately disclosed.

The Inquirer broke the news hours after President Theobald confirmed the university is still considering building a football stadium on Main Campus.

“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 his office Tuesday.  “So we’re discussing it with the city. … It will be in the next year, making a decision one way or the other.”

Ray Betzner, a university spokesman, said the amended contract far from guarantees the university will play at Lincoln Financial Field in those years. He added that the university was exploring “a number of options” for the football team.

“This amendment gives us flexibility and time to explore those options,” Betzner said in an email. “We are grateful to the Eagles for working with us to provide the flexibility we need.”

In Tuesday’s interview with The Temple News, Theobald described his vision for Main Campus and touted a football stadium as a destination for alumni to return to a campus abuzz with fans and gameday excitement.

“I’ve talked to the trustees about it this summer, we are talking with the city because there are parking issues, there’s traffic issues, other things we need to work through there, and we are talking with people who have offered us financial support to do it,” Theobald said. “Will the trustees support it? Will the city support it? Financially, I think it’s viable. And it’s just a decision on what’s best for Temple.”

“We like where we play now, it works out really well,” Theobald added. “It could just really change in terms of what that experience is in bringing alumni back and giving students a different experience while they’re here, too. It’s going to be a major decision.”

The team will also become the “official university partner of the Philadelphia Eagles,” which means fans are likely to see more Temple signs and other marketing devices during events at the Linc, Betzner said.

A new Temple commercial aired Sunday afternoon during the Eagles’ first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Temple’s football team opens its season against Penn State Sept. 5 at the Linc.

Emily Rolen contributed reporting.

Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@temple.edu or on Twitter @JBrandt_TU.

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