The university’s claim that Lincoln Financial Field wants $12 million upfront in negotiations for a new contract to house the football team is troubling for a number of reasons.
First, such a high number indicates it’s extremely unlikely that the football team would continue playing at the Linc after the team’s contract expires in 2018.
“We’re not about to give them that kind of money,” President Theobald told the Chronicle of Higher Education last week. That means the university’s next step is to find an alternative home in the city or move forward with its plans to build an on-campus football stadium.
The idea of sharing space at places like the Philadelphia Union’s PPL Park or the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field is likely unappealing to the administration. Temple wants a stadium to call its own that will bring big-time college football to Main Campus and the lucrative game-day revenues that come with it.
The administration seems convinced of the advantages of such a stadium. Now it just needs to convince the public.
That’s why Theobald’s comments last week give us pause.
Don Smolenski, team president of the Philadelphia Eagles, gave a convincing rebuttal to Theobald’s comments. Smolenski told the Inquirer that the team hasn’t had any negotiations with Temple about extending its contract in more than a year and that Theobald’s comments “do not accurately reflect our conversations with Temple representatives.”
Is the administration trying to make it seem like the Linc is forcing Temple to move somewhere else? Theobald certainly has the motive to have the public in his corner.
Building a stadium, likely west of Broad Street, would only exacerbate tensions with the community that seem to be at an all-time high. To alleviate those concerns, Theobald has spoken publicly about allotting time for local high schools to use the stadium and including academic space.
Temple should be concerned with effectively communicating the benefits of such a stadium, not trying to fool the community into thinking it had no other choice but to build it.