After the university announced it is still pursuing an on-campus stadium last week, the Stadium Stompers — a group of residents, students and faculty against the stadium — said this doesn’t change the organization’s strategy for this year.
Besides opposing the proposed stadium, the organization will push for a temporary halt on the university’s developments near Main Campus until there “is an establishment of community control in the neighborhood,” said Jared Dobkin, a 2017 political science alumnus and Stadium Stompers leader.
Over the summer, the Stadium Stompers held strategy sessions in order to revitalize their campaign and develop their “offensive demands” to present to the university about the stadium and other issues in the community, Dobkin said.
One of their demands is for the university to be “democratically controlled” by community residents, students and university workers. The organization also wants the university to yield the $126 million that would be spent on the stadium to the community.
“People who go to school there, people who work there and people who live around the neighborhood actually make [Temple] run,” said Anna Barnett, another Stadium Stompers leader.
The Stompers met with President Richard Englert, other university officials and state Rep. Curtis Thomas in August for the first time since the organization’s formation to discuss the stadium. Members told The Temple News that Englert could not discuss the stadium in any “specificity” because the $1.25 million feasibility study was incomplete.
Englert announced last week at the State of the University Address that the stadium could be a multipurpose facility with classroom, retail and research spaces.
“That multipurpose facility isn’t going to have a multipurpose of serving the community in any way,” Dobkin said. “It’s just going to be an excuse for them to be able to capitalize off of the North Philadelphia community.”
Englert told The Temple News after his address that the university is conducting “multiple studies” about the possible stadium, and the goal is to create a stadium that “benefits our neighbors as well as students.”
The Stadium Stompers worked alongside Thomas to facilitate the meeting with the university in August and will continue that relationship this year, Dobkin said.
He added that the Stadium Stompers want Thomas to block any of Temple’s budget items that involve spending public funds on the stadium.
Thomas’ office could not provide comment in time for publication.
The state promised to give $20 million to the university if the stadium is approved.
Dobkin added that the group plans to align themselves with other university and community organizations, like the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Temple Association of University Professionals.
TAUP, which has sponsored Stadium Stompers demonstrations in the past, distributed a faculty-wide survey about the proposed on-campus stadium.
“While there have been meetings between administrators and faculty at many schools and with representatives from the Faculty Senate, there has been no attempt to gauge the opinions of our members as a whole,” TAUP’s survey statement wrote.
The stadium will likely be discussed at the Board meeting on Oct. 10.
Steve Newman, president of TAUP, said the survey’s results will be released on Thursday, and the organization is “most eager” to present the results to the Board of Trustees.
The Stadium Stompers will host a demonstration outside Sullivan Hall at the Board of Trustees meeting next Tuesday.
“TAUP is deeply concerned about the possible effects of the stadium on our neighbors in North Philadelphia,” Newman said. “We admire the Stadium Stompers for standing up and being a voice in our community.”
Dobkin said the organization plans to focus more on educating the public about the Board of Trustees and their “business interests” outside the university, saying that Board members will benefit from the construction of the stadium.
“We saw this coming,” Dobkin said. “We never thought Temple was backing off the stadium. We’re going to continue ahead with our plan, and we’re not afraid to see the Board of Trustees for where they’re at.”