The university’s study into the feasibility of building an on-campus football stadium has been put on hold and administrators could not say when — or if — it would resume, The Temple News has learned.
The feasibility study, for which the university had budgeted $1.25 million, was supposed to examine possible designs of a stadium as well as its impact on traffic and the environment.
A representative from the Ohio-based architecture firm Moody Nolan, which began the study nearly 11 months ago, said it is “on hold,” meaning that all data collection has ceased. The university said through a spokesperson on Monday that it is still continuing its “community outreach efforts.”
“Temple continues its careful efforts to consider the future of a university stadium,” the spokesperson said. “That decision will be made by what is best for the university and the North Philadelphia community.”
Dozie Ibeh, the associate vice president of Temple’s Project Delivery Group, said in August that he was working with Moody Nolan on the study and the results would be finished within a few months. On Monday, when approached by a reporter, Ibeh said he hadn’t worked on the stadium “for months,” adding that his department was no longer involved in the study.
In April, Moody Nolan’s CEO and President Curtis Moody told The Temple News that the study would be completed by the end of Summer 2016. The last step of the study was to examine the effect on traffic flows around Main Campus.
At a Board of Trustees meeting last year, former President Neil Theobald projected that construction on the stadium would begin in 2017.
In the months since, administrators would say only that the study was ongoing, and little else.
The university had not publicly set a date for the results of the feasibility study to be presented to the Board, but new football Coach Geoff Collins mentioned that he had seen renderings of the stadium during his first press conference.
“It was beautiful, renderings usually are,” Collins said in December. “They’re really nice and I thought the location, the way they’ve structured the view so that you can see downtown Philadelphia, I thought it was an ideal setup.”
He added that an on-campus stadium would be “huge” for the future of the program.
The prospect of a stadium has been met with pushback from the Stadium Stompers, a group of students and North Philadelphia residents who have held protests around Main Campus over the past year.
About 20 of the group’s members protested on Broad Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue on Wednesday, blocking traffic in jest of the traffic analysis that was part of the feasibility study.
“I think the university has paid about a million dollars to do a traffic study, and we’re saying that we’re going to do one for you for free,” the Rev. William B. Moore, of the Tenth Memorial Baptist Church, said before the demonstration.
The protesters chanted as drivers honked their horns and were redirected by police.
The Stadium Stompers were there more to disrupt traffic than to conduct a traffic study, said Kenneth Johnson, a community resident and Stadium Stompers member.
“This is how it will be if there is a stadium,” Johnson said. “Traffic will be much worse than this if there is a stadium.”
After the demonstration, Jacqueline Wiggins, a member of the Stadium Stompers, said that the organization’s next objective is to speak to President Richard Englert about their opposition to the stadium.
Last March, Moody Nolan met with residents who live in the immediate vicinity of the projected site of the stadium at 16th and Norris streets. The firm had also visited campus to speak to residents and observe the flow of people on a weekend.
Moore said he’s worried that the impact of the stadium will not stop at the end of the football season.
“It’s more than having football games here because they only play 10 to 12 games a year,” he said. “You cannot build a venue of that size and be profitable without having other venues there.”
Julie Christie, Kelly Brennan and Joe Brandt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheTempleNews.
Evan Easterling and Gillian McGoldrick contributed reporting.