Even though they don’t attract the fan base that the football and basketball teams take for granted, the university’s non-revenue sports manage to attract a few student fans.
But for the soccer, baseball and softball teams, a new home at Ambler field means reduced accessibility for students and casual fans.
For the four teams who call Ambler home, student fans attending the game on their own accord are rare. The men’s and women’s soccer teams generally attract more than 100 fans for their games, but few, if any, are students who simply take interest in the game.
The university provides shuttle service to Ambler, making it relatively easy for students to find a way to the new fieldhouse, even if the trek takes more than an hour.
On weekends, the shuttle is not as consistent. On Friday evenings, shuttle service stops at 6 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, a fan’s last chance for a ride home comes at 4 p.m.
That makes things tricky for soccer, baseball and softball fans.
Soccer games usually begin at 1 p.m. Baseball games start at 12 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. At this rate, soccer fans barely have a chance to make it back to the Ambler campus for the final shuttle, leaving at 3 p.m.
If the game is anything like last weekend’s double overtime win over George Washington University, fans can forget about a shuttle ride home.
But the university is not the only way to get to and from the game. The other obvious choice of transportation to and the university’s suburban campus is SEPTA’s R5 line, which has a stop in downtown Ambler.
That stop, however, is a few miles from Ambler field. A one-way ticket on the regional rail line costs $3.75 during off-peak hours and $4.50 during peak hours.
To ask a student to pay for a train to Ambler is outrageous, especially when the station is more than two miles from the field. Sports teams cannot ask students to come to the game when the only mode of transportation home is a relatively inaccessible train.
Conversely, a Temple football game is accessible via a special shuttle provided by the office of student activities.
With the construction of Ambler Fieldhouse, the university made it clear that the future of Temple’s non-revenue sports is not going to happen on campus.
This is nothing new for the university. Before the university cleared way for the sports fields at the suburban campus, the soccer teams played at the former Temple Stadium, in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.
It is inexcusable for anyone to question student dedication to athletic teams until ample transportation is provided for fans. If the athletic department wants more students to attend its games, they should give them a chance to get there.