Report: Temple to file project submission with city for on-campus football stadium

The Philadelphia NAACP wants Temple to build its proposed on-campus stadium in Rittenhouse Square, instead of North Philadelphia. | VIA TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

UPDATE at 5:58 p.m. 

The university will file a project submission to the City Planning Commission as the next step toward a multipurpose facility that includes an on-campus football stadium, according to a university release from President Richard Englert.

This is the first major step the university has taken toward the creation of an on-campus stadium since approving funds for a feasibility study almost two years ago. The stadium has been a source of tension between Temple and the surrounding community since 2015, when university officials began seriously considering the project.

The site of the proposed 35,000-seat stadium, which is projected to cost $130 million, has Broad Street as its eastern boundary, Norris Street as its northern boundary and 16th Street as its western boundary. Part of 15th Street between Norris Street and Montgomery Avenue would permanently close, blocking the only uninterrupted southbound street from North Philadelphia that is west of Broad Street.

Early plans for other spaces in the facility include classrooms, a concussion research center and more than 28,000 square feet in retail space.

Funding for the facility will come from private donations and bonds deferred from money currently used to pay the Philadelphia Eagles to rent Lincoln Financial Field. The university will pursue naming rights deals to also raise money. Individuals or companies can pay to have their names in titles of different parts of the facility. There is also a $50 million fundraising goal.

Elected officials in Philadelphia responded to Temple’s announcement with words of caution for its effect on North Philadelphia community residents.

“The Mayor has long felt that if Temple wants to go ahead with the stadium, it needs to be a situation where the neighborhood benefits as well as the university,” said Ajeenah Amir, the deputy communications director in Mayor Jim Kenney’s Office. “We now look forward to seeing the university’s specific proposal, and we’re confident the Planning Commission will give it due consideration.”

City Council President and Councilman for the 5th District in North Philadelphia Darrell Clarke said in a statement to The Temple News that he’s had “open communication” with university leaders and they’re aware of his and his constituents’ concerns.

“The announcement made today does not alter my or affected residents’ expectation that there be an inclusive and honest community engagement process as the stadium proposal moves forward,” Clarke said in the statement. “Nearby residents, local businesses, service nonprofits and students all deserve a seat at the table as Temple proceeds with this major development.”

The proposed stadium has received major backlash from community organizations like the Stadium Stompers — a group of students, faculty and community residents who oppose the project. According to the project overview, Englert met with leaders of the Stadium Stompers and Rep. Curtis Thomas in July 2017 and “heard their concerns” about the stadium.

The July meeting was the first and only one the university had with an organized anti-stadium group.

Thomas told The Temple News in August 2017 that Englert could not discuss the stadium “with  any specificity” because the university had not completed its $1.25 million feasibility study  conducted by Ohio-based architecture firm Moody Nolan.

“After looking at other urban stadiums, we are confident we can take these concerns into account and make this a valuable addition to North Philadelphia,” the project overview reads.

Preliminary designs call for the north end of the stadium to be no taller than the row homes on Norris Street. The nearby Amos Recreation Center, which is operated by Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department, will remain. The university will not acquire any other additional land in the surrounding area to build the field.

“I want to emphasize that we will continue our conversations with neighbors to address their concerns,” Englert wrote in the statement. “These discussions have been invaluable not only in terms of the proposed facility but also in helping us understand and develop better working relationships in the community. We learned that it was important for us to be better neighbors, and we have taken a number of steps to address community issues as a result.”

“Temple is taking the next step toward an on-campus multipurpose facility, including a football stadium,” the university tweeted on Thursday.

The university has never released the results of a $1.25 million feasibility study. According to a university document, more than 32,000 parking spaces are within the vicinity of Main Campus not counting the more than 4,600 controlled by Temple. Traffic and parking for game days will be continually reviewed.

In order to address concerns of increased noise and trash near the facility, the university will increase its fines for misconduct and heighten security presence at the facility on game days, according to the project overview.

Read more about what we know about the stadium here

The plans include a stadium district, to provide maintenance and sanitation, The Temple News reported in October.

Game-day festivities like the alumni tent and tailgates would be moved to Main Campus.

“When and if that time comes that we get an on-campus stadium, I have no doubt that we will be able to replicate what we do at Lincoln Financial Field to possibly having something on Temple’s campus,” Scott Walcoff, the senior associate athletic director of external operations, told The Temple News in October. “Whether it be Liacouras Walk, whether it be the center area of campus now where the Bell Tower is, I think there’s enough areas that we would be able to hopefully do something with.”

Temple has exercised options on its lease at Lincoln Financial Field for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Gillian McGoldrick contributed reporting.

This story has been updated to include the responses from Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council President Darrell Clarke. This story is developing, check back with The Temple News for more information.

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Evan Easterling
can be reached at evan.easterling@temple.edu Or you can follow Evan on Twitter @Evan_Easterling Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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