On Monday, The Temple News sat down with Dozie Ibeh, the associate vice president of Temple’s Project Delivery Group, and Bill Bergman, the vice president of public affairs, to see Temple’s stadium presentation — one that was meant to be shown at the university’s town hall last month.
The town hall was cut short due to interruptions from protesters, so the presentation was never shown publicly.
The presentation, filled with new renderings of the university’s proposed on-campus stadium, included the most detailed look to date at the 35,000-seat stadium and how it would affect Main Campus and the North Philadelphia community.
Ibeh outlined the university’s proposal which includes: adding several retail spaces, building one-third of the stadium’s seating below sidewalk level, creating several tailgating locations on Main Campus, completing a legally required and binding community benefits agreement and addressing issues like student partying.
The project would take 20 to 24 months to build. Bergman and Ibeh said the university has informally presented the project to several city agencies and hopes to have all required city approvals by June.
The university would build a plaza to enter the stadium on Broad Street and Polett Walk. Several retail space opportunities — one of which the university envisions as a restaurant open to the public — would be on both sides of the stairs leading into the plaza, which would stretch along Broad Street from Norris Street to Polett Walk.
There would be two main entrances: one on Broad Street and Polett Walk and another on Broad and Norris streets. Ibeh said these are strategically located to minimize foot traffic in North Philadelphia.
On two sides, the stadium would be built 25 feet “below grade,” or below sidewalk level, so it would not extend higher than the height of surrounding rowhomes. Because of this, one-third of the seating would be below sidewalk level and built into the ground.
“We are able to achieve this by going below grade at an additional cost, I would even say a significant financial cost to the university,” Ibeh said.
The cost to build into the ground is included in the budget and will not extend the university’s $130 million price tag for the project.
Facing North 16th Street, a multipurpose building separate from the stadium would feature academic and research space, as well as game day suites and press boxes. The building would be constructed 45 feet from the sidewalk and include a small traffic loop to allow drop-offs, reducing traffic concerns. The entrance to this building would be accessed by walking along the Polett Walk plaza to 16th and Berks streets, so students would not need to walk through the community.
The facade of the stadium will feature pilaster, or siding, to match adjacent rowhomes. Landscaping and streets around the stadium’s perimeter would also be improved.
THE GAME DAY EXPERIENCE
The university has deemed several locations on Main Campus as “game-day fun zones” for tailgating and other activities. The locations are as follows:
- Anderson/Gladfelter Terrace
- Library Quad
- Pollet Walk
- Johnson/Hardwick Plaza
- Columbia Park
- Mitten Hall
- Morgan Hall
- STAR Complex
- Liacouras Walk
- Founder’s Garden
- Lenfest Circle (Bell Tower area)
In each of these game-day zones, the university food service provider Aramark would be contracted to provide food.
Temple is aiming to match Tulane University or the University of Mississippi, where most tailgating activities take place on campus, Bergman said.
He envisions most of the tailgating activities will occur inside buildings, like on the indoor field at the STAR Complex on 15th Street near Montgomery Avenue, Bergman added.
The university is open to the possibility of allowing tailgating to occur in university-owned parking lots, as long as attendees do not use additional parking spaces, he added.
MITIGATING COMMUNITY IMPACT
Bergman said North Philadelphia residents are primarily concerned with the potential issues of noise, lighting and trash.
To address lighting issues, Ibeh said the university will utilize LED lighting with shrouds around each bulb to focus the brightness only on the field. The “horseshoe-shaped” design of the stadium will help redirect noise south toward campus and City Hall and away from North Philadelphia homes, Ibeh added.
In the university’s ongoing traffic study for the city’s Streets Department, Temple analyzed traffic from 24 streets near the proposed stadium to determine where to reroute traffic on 15th Street. The stadium, if built, would block the street from Norris Street to Montgomery Avenue. The university has not publicly stated the study’s start date.
At its peak, about 315 cars drive on 15th Street between Norris and Montgomery Avenue per hour. The study determined Broad Street experiences 2,500 to 3,000 cars per hour at its busiest, with the potential capacity of about 5,000 cars per hour. Ibeh said traffic from 15th Street could be “rerouted back to Broad Street.”
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board agents would be contracted by the university to enforce issues relating to underage drinking, Bergman said. Additional police and security resources would be stationed in the community to control tailgating and parking problems.
“Once we find locations on campus to tailgate, we have to ensure that there is not crazy parties, or anything like that happening in the neighborhood,” Bergman said. “We’d have additional police in the neighborhood, along with the state agents that we would contract.”
From the pending traffic study, Ibeh said the university determined it would require 5,000 parking spaces for game day, after considering the number of people who would drive to games, as well as the attendees who live on campus and those who would take public transportation.
The university owns 5,295 parking spaces, Ibeh said, and there are more potential parking spots in lots that are not owned by Temple.
Ibeh said the university is taking it “one step further” and assigning a specific parking lot for game days when attendees buy their tickets. This will help avoid people parking along residential streets in North Philadelphia.
The stadium would create job openings for community residents, Bergman said. Potential employment would become available in construction and again upon completion in maintenance and retail work.
The football team would only use the stadium for Temple’s six annual home games, but the university would be open to hosting local high school championship football games.
Bergman also referenced President Richard Englert’s opening remarks at the town hall, where he committed to making “a significant investment” in Amos Recreation Center. The center is adjacent to the proposed stadium site.
“We would gladly talk to the neighbors and the city about what services need to be improved at Amos,” Bergman said. “We have heard from neighbors that they are not happy with the condition of the playground.”
A commitment to renovate the center would be a part of the community benefits agreement, Bergman said.
Ibeh said the stadium would include a community garden along Norris Street, maintained by the university. The community would have an opportunity to help with its design.
The full presentation will be made available to the public soon, Bergman said.