Imagine a nice spring day.
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, you’re walking around campus looking for something else to do besides going to class or doing work, and then it pops into your head.
Ah yes, America’s pastime. What a perfect way to spend a beautiful afternoon, that’s such a great idea.
But then, you remember. You live on Main Campus, not in Ambler. The games aren’t played here, they’re played in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
And therein lies the problem.
The Ambler Sports Complex is like the red-headed step-child of Temple Athletics. It’s 35 minutes away, it generates ridiculous amounts of wind and the only people who go and watch the games are player’s friends and families.
Basically, if you asked a random Temple student how the baseball team was doing this season, they would say, “We have a baseball team?”
So, with that being said, why are the games played there? Why is baseball tucked away into the deep dark corner of Temple Athletics? Why can’t they see the light of day like field hockey and lacrosse?
Um, well, there’s no room. And the program doesn’t make any money.
You see, college athletics is separated into two separate groups: revenue and non-revenue. At Temple, football and basketball are the two revenue sports.
That’s why they spent a lot of money building the Liacorous Center, and that’s why they spent a lot of money leasing out Lincoln Financial Field. Because the basketball and football programs have the chance to make a lot of money for the university, they get these things done for them.
Baseball, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, etc. don’t make any money for Temple. No one is charged for a ticket, there are no television contracts or advertising dollars, there really is no money to be made.
With all those things working against the baseball team, it’s seems fairly obvious as to why the games are played in Ambler. This is North Philadelphia — wide-open spaces big enough to house a baseball diamond aren’t magically going to pop out of the ground.
Unless, you really want them to.
Now, this is the Northeastern United States. The weather outside isn’t consistently nice until the middle of May. That’s why it’s next to impossible for Temple to compete with the Floridas and Texases of the world, as going there means you can play outside in January and coming here means you can play in a room in McGonigle Hall instead.
But that’s really not the point.
Having a baseball field on Main Campus would be fun, plain and simple. It would be better for the players, the students and faculty. Think of it as a gift to the Temple University community. It would enhance and enrich the overall environment, it would perhaps give students something else to do besides sitting in their apartments and playing video games.
And that’s why it’s worth it, that’s what Temple is missing. We have a regular field to play pick up football and soccer on, we have a turf field to tear ACLs on and get really nasty burns. What we don’t have is a baseball field, that’s what we need.
Now, it is rather unrealistic to hope that this gets done, especially considering Skip Wilson Field was built in 2004. The whole thing would cost money and not make money, and simple economics tells me that that’s not good. But money can’t control everything and money shouldn’t control this.
In the seemingly never-ending quest to make Temple and the surrounding community a better place to live, a baseball field can go a long way to reaching that goal. It certainly won’t do the trick, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to try.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.