Last November, four block captains from blocks west of Main Campus traveled to New Orleans to see how Tulane University handles operations at a football stadium in a dense residential area.
Toward the northern end of the university’s campus, the football team plays its home games at Yulman Stadium, which seats 30,000. The stadium opened Sept. 5, 2014.
Joyce Wilkerson, senior adviser to the President for Community Relations and Development, told The Temple News last month that other community members were invited to attend, along with the four block captains. Temple paid for the trip as part of its decision-making process for its own on-campus stadium, she said.
Wilkerson added the trip was to see how Tulane handles other parts of holding football games, like tailgating.
Will Mundy, block captain of the 1600 block of Page Street, said he dedicated time during the trip to talk to residents who live near Yulman Stadium.
“The only homeowners that were affected were in the spot that [Tulane] wanted it at,” he said.
“A lot of residents didn’t even know a stadium was being built there until it was in the news,” Mundy added. “In other words, they didn’t have any communication about a stadium being built there. Here, we are trying to be on top of this ever since word got out.”
He argued the community needs to know more about the process of the proposed stadium, citing the area’s past trouble as the number of off-campus students has increased.
Another block captain who traveled to Tulane is Joan Briley, who oversees the 1500 block of Norris Street. Her house is right across the street from the proposed site.
Briley said she opposes the stadium because of student behavior, citing problems during St. Patrick’s Day.
“They’re up and down the street drinking beer,” she said. “They’re loud, they’re rowdy … they urinate up and down the street, they throw up down the street, it’s horrible.”
Briley added she wasn’t impressed by Yulman Stadium, citing the fact that there’s a fence around residences right next to the stadium.
Briley said the other two block captains who traveled to the stadium were Estelle Wilson of the 2000 block of 15th Street and Milton Pollard of the 1800 block of North Bouvier Street. Neither could be reached for comment.
Mundy said a key difference between residents here and those near Yulman Stadium is that people in New Orleans were still recovering from Hurricane Katrina as the stadium was being built. He added the area was clean and that laws against loitering and littering are “definitely enforced.”
Briley believes student behavior happens because they don’t care about the community. She added that if any of Temple’s top administrators had to live where she does, they could see the rowdiness themselves.
“Every person who asked me, ‘How do you feel about this stadium?’ A lot of them, they don’t live around here, the big wheels that are doing this stadium,” she said. “So they don’t have to deal with noise, the rowdiness … they can go home every night and we’re still here.”
She added that the breakdown of respectful and rowdy students is about “50-50.” While she understands that college kids want to have fun, there needs to be a line between good and bad behavior.
“I understand the partying, and the ‘Hey, mom and dad’s not around, let me do my thing,’” she said. “I don’t mind [kids] up and down the street, but be a little respectful.”
Wilkerson told The Temple News last month the problems stem from a lack of oversight on students west of Broad Street.
“When the university decided, however it decided, to become a residential campus, we perhaps weren’t sufficiently proactive at figuring out what that meant,” she said. “So you have hundreds of landlords operating on the west of Broad … and a lot of them are just cash and check, they’re not on-site, they don’t manage the student conduct.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.