Community, religious leaders host stadium press conference

A press conference opposing Temple’s proposed on-campus stadium was held near its possible site at the corner of 15th and Norris streets.

Members of the Stadium Stompers hold up posters at the press conference at Geasey Field on Tuesday morning. | ERIN BLEWETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

North Philadelphia religious and community organizations held a press conference against Temple’s proposed on-campus stadium near its possible site at the corner of 15th and Norris Street on Tuesday.

Speakers included Black clergy leaders, the Philadelphia NAACP and the Stadium Stompers, which are a group of community members, students, faculty and alumni who oppose the on-campus stadium.

The groups held the press conference to advertise their upcoming town hall event on Thursday at Carver Engineering and Science High School on 16th Street near Norris at 6:00 p.m.

The press conference was held outside Geasey Field, which is the proposed site of the 35,000 seat multipurpose facility. The university announced last month that it would submit its stadium plans for approval to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.

While the groups promoted Thursday’s town hall to the public, they also called on President Richard Englert, Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor and Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke to attend their event on Thursday.

A university spokesperson told The Temple News that Englert will not attend the community’s town hall, but instead will host his own town hall on March 6 in Mitten Hall at 6:30 p.m. during Spring Break. The event will be “open for all,” according to Englert’s statement to the Temple community.

Englert and architects from the university and Moody Nolan, an Ohio-based architecture firm hired by the university to conduct a $1.25 million stadium feasibility study, will be present at the March 6 meeting, according to the statement.

The university’s town hall is, “latest phase in an extended series of conversations,” with community residents about the stadium, the statement reads.

The Rev. William Brauner of Haven Peniel United Methodist Church on Oxford Street near 23rd led the press conference and introduced five community residents who spoke, each sharing their concerns about how an on-campus stadium would affect them.

“Once the football game ends, Temple fans would return to the comfort of their own communities,” said Minister Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia NAACP at the conference.

North Philadelphia resident Kenneth Johnson said that an on-campus stadium would be like “putting a whale inside of a goldfish bowl,” adding that the proposed facility would strain a neighborhood that already has “enough trash, noise, partying, nevermind with tailgating.”

The Rev. William Moore, pastor of Tenth Memorial Baptist Church on 19th Street near Master, said Englert’s claims that he discussed Temple’s plans of a stadium with the community is a “false narrative.” He added he and his fellow clergy had not heard from the university about the stadium.

More than 120 people replied they will attend the joint town hall meeting on Thursday, and 492 people said they were interested as of Tuesday evening.

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