Talks about an on-campus football stadium have escalated among the Board of Trustees after the Owls opened their season 7-0, the best start in the program’s history.
The university is “exploring all options” regarding an on-campus stadium—one of which includes a 35,000-seat stadium in the northwest portion of Main Campus, at a cost of about $100 million, a university spokesman confirmed yesterday. In that scenario, it would be built west of Broad Street and north of the Liacouras Center, he added.
A multi-use student recreation center is also being considered west of Pearson and McGonigle halls. In May, the board approved $1.5 million for the design of an indoor facility at the corner of 15th Street and Montgomery Avenue that could house a workout facility and an indoor track, as The Temple News previously reported.
Four trustees on the Athletics committee spoke with The Temple News about the prospects of building a stadium.
Drew Katz, CEO of Interstate Outdoor Advertising and member of the board’s Athletics committee, said he is in favor of an on-campus stadium because of the game-day atmosphere it would bring to campus.
“My role on the Board of Trustees is to carry out the direction and the wishes of my late father Lewis,” Katz said. “My dad was extremely involved in Temple athletics, loved the university and all of its sports teams and was in favor of a stadium … so I’m going to do everything I can to see to it that a stadium gets built.”
Other trustees on the Athletics committee said discussions are still preliminary and they need more information before making a decision.
Theodore McKee, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, said the location of a stadium is under discussion, but the board must come first come to a decision about whether it should be built.
“I’ve got concerns,” he said. “Assuming Temple doesn’t become a football dynasty … and we build a stadium we can’t fill, or even half-fill, or it was empty during a down time with the program, what does that do to our momentum?”
Joseph W. “Chip” Marshall III, vice chairman of Stevens and Lee law firm, said he wants to see a complete plan of the stadium’s design, its purpose, cost and community impact before making a decision.
“The challenge for an issue like this is it’s important to consider a lot of different interests,” he said. The community aspect is “part of our responsibility, so I think it’s very important,” Marshall added. The talks have not been propelled this far based on the team’s success, he said.
“There are all kinds of issues around sustainability, its impact, cost and where it fits in priority,” he said. “I think we’re kind of a boring group. We all take our roles very seriously and take a lot of time to look at this stuff. We sweat the details.”
Joseph F. Coradino, CEO of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, said he is still “open to dialogue” considering whether or not to build a stadium, but added the impact it would have on the community is a vital factor to consider, citing that he attended Temple himself.
“The community is critical and key and is of utmost importance,” Coradino said. “The community is very important as it related to this kind of a move.”
None of the trustees The Temple News interviewed could comment on specifics concerning donations toward the stadium. Restructuring the university’s current rental contract with the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field is a significant factor in the final decision, they each added.
A university spokesman said administration has been pleased with current fundraising for a possible stadium.
Katz, McKee, Marshall and Coradino expected further briefing on the issue at the next meeting in December, but they weren’t sure how close Temple would be to a definite decision.
Katz said recent news about the possible stadium has been coincidental with the program’s success.
“I think this has been in the works for a number of years,” he said. “You don’t develop a plan for a $100 million football stadium without taking a very slow and deliberate process, and I think the process is coming together at a time where the team is also performing incredibly well.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.