North Philadelphia community and religious organizations hosted a town hall about Temple’s proposed on-campus stadium at George Washington Carver High School of Science and Engineering on Thursday.
More than 100 residents, local high school students and clergy members discussed the impact of the stadium on the surrounding North Philadelphia community.
In January, the university announced its plan to submit a proposal for the stadium to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. This was the first major step the university took toward building this facility since it began funding a $1.25 million feasibility study in 2015.
A panel at Thursday’s event featured representatives from the Philadelphia NAACP, Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, National Action Network, Temple faculty members and the Stadium Stompers — a group of community members, students, faculty and alumni who oppose an on-campus stadium.
The organizations delivered invitations to University President Richard Englert, Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor and Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke for the event. Chairs were set aside and labeled for the three, but they did not attend.
Seats have been reserved for Temple President Richard Englert, Temple Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor and Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke. A Temple spokesperson told @TheTempleNews Englert will not be present. pic.twitter.com/sszVXM7HfB— Will Bleier (@will_bleier) March 1, 2018
Englert announced on Monday that he will hold his own public town hall about the stadium in Mitten Hall on March 6 at 6:30 p.m.
The Rev. William Brawner, pastor of Haven Penial United Methodist Church, asked the crowd of people if they plan to attend Englert’s town hall next week, and nearly every person in the room raised their hands.
“They don’t expect any of us to show,” Brawner said to the crowd. “They’ve got another thing coming.”
Temple Student Government has stated that it will not support a stadium that negatively impacts North Philadelphia and has hosted several community meetings with residents, where conversations often lead to the stadium. Several TSG members attended Thursday’s town hall.
Tyler Lum, TSG’s director of government affairs, told The Temple News that TSG condemns the university’s current stadium proposal.
“TSG is still standing with the idea that we are against a stadium that would negatively impact this community,” Lum said. “And for the current deal that [the university has] offered I believe that it will negatively impact the community. We are standing with the community on this one.”
Lum also criticized Clarke, O’Connor and Englert for not attending the event.
“I feel like if you’re going to be a leader in this area, you need to be there for your constituents, and they just didn’t show up today,” he added.
The crowd broke out into chants during the event, saying things like “We shall not be moved” and “Vote him out,” about Clarke if he did not adequately address his constituents concerns about the stadium.
Chants of “no stadium,” “no deal” and “we shall not be moved” have started in the crowd. (@TheTempleNews)— Will Bleier (@will_bleier) March 1, 2018
Chants have begun to vote Philadelphia City Council President Clarke out of office if he won’t listen to his constituents concerns about the stadium. (@TheTempleNews)— Will Bleier (@will_bleier) March 2, 2018
Representatives from the university’s faculty union, Temple Association of University Professionals, and other faculty members were also in attendance.
Mary Stricker, a sociology professor who sat on the panel at the town hall, said the university should focus on its students rather than a stadium.
“I really think this is a bad idea not only because it is a financial risk, but also because absolutely it’s in the worst interest of the surrounding community,” Stricker said. “Temple owes something to the community that has been hosting it for all these years.”
Pastor Jay Broadnax, who is the president of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, drew comparisons between football and the gentrification he said is occuring in the community.
“We love football, but we’re calling a timeout,” Broadnax said. “We love football, but the people in this community will not be a football, passed, punted, kicked and carried across the city line in order for institutions to score profit points or get land grab wins.”