The university will move its men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s track & field teams to a new facility on the former William Penn High School property, purchased by Temple from the School District of Philadelphia for $15 million, Athletic Director Kevin Clark told The Temple News in an exclusive interview last week.
Temple’s women’s lacrosse and field hockey teams remain in “flux,” depending on the design of the property. Those programs currently compete at Geasey Field on Main Campus. Clark said the future of Geasey is “yet to be determined” if field hockey and lacrosse both move to the William Penn property, and later said the prospect of a potential on-campus football stadium remains “wide open.”
Clark, Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director Mark Ingram and Deputy Director of Athletics Pat Kraft all said they would like to have a football stadium on campus, but that it remains a “process.” The school’s contract with Lincoln Financial Field, owned by the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, will end after the 2017 football season.
The construction process at the William Penn property, expected to take 12 to 18 months until completion, will put the men’s and women’s soccer teams minutes away from campus on N. Broad Street between Master Street and Girard Avenue, instead of a 45-minute drive away at its current home in Ambler Sports Complex.
After freeing roughly $2 million from the athletic budget primarily from last year’s athletic cuts, the athletic department has reallocated money to improve facilities for student-athletes and to increase the overall funding for each sport.
Clark said $1.5 million has been used to renovate locker rooms and training facilities, stretching from the football team’s Edberg-Olson Hall practice locker room to the men’s and women’s soccer team’s locker rooms at the Ambler Sports Complex.
“[We’re targeting] every one of them,” Clark said. “Everyone received an upgrade, all of the sports.”
The money used, while primarily stemming from the athletic cuts, is not exclusively a result of them. A small amount of it stems from fundraising.
In addition to the new and renovated facilities, the athletic administration has also increased scholarship money for several programs, particularly for rowing and women’s gymnastics. The university gave 10 more scholarships to the rowing team, while women’s gymnastics had its scholarship number increase by six.
Upgrades are also in motion for both McGonigle Hall and the Liacouras Center, slated to be unveiled both before and during this year’s basketball season, Clark said.
A new video board and covers for its wooden bleachers will be installed in McGonigle, which is used by the women’s basketball, volleyball and women’s gymnastics teams. The training and weight rooms will also be upgraded during the winter break.
A Hall of Fame section finalized in November will highlight the Liacouras Center’s updates for this upcoming season.
“You’re going to walk in there and you’re going to be blown away when we’re finished with that,” Clark said. “By the first game [this season] when you walk in, you’re going to be like, ‘Wow.’”
After President Theobald and Mayor Nutter announced Temple’s crew and rowing teams would share space with the Police Marine Unit in the East Park Canoe House after $5.5 million in renovations, Clark said the EPCH will hopefully be completed within the next 12 to 18 months. The City of Philadelphia is donating $2.5 million toward the project, while Temple trustee H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest put up the remaining $3 million.
The original timetable for the project was 12 to 18 months when the renovation was announced in February.
Clark said the progress of the EPCH is “in the hands of the city [of Philadelphia].” He said the city will manage the project, control the contracting bids and that the bids “will be back” by Oct. 14.
The crew and rowing teams were both slated to be two of seven varsity teams cut after an announcement in December of 2013. The Board of Trustees passed Theobald’s recommendation to reinstate the two programs in lieu of the EPCH announcement.
EJ Smith and Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com.