Ten Reasons To Build The Stadium

proposed

Snails have crossed the continental United States faster than Temple University has moved to build a football stadium since the first “done deal” was uttered by a member of the Board of Trustees to a follower in March of 2012.

That was the day that Temple beat North Carolina State in the NCAA basketball tournament. The listener was a long-time fan who made numerous road trips to support his alma mater in both basketball and football. The speaker was presumably well-connected with the powers-that-be at Temple.

Five months of March have come and gone and there has been no public announcement of the “done deals” so many of us have heard for five years. So call me skeptical that this thing will ever get built.

BOT meetings have come and gone and several of the last few have had “rumors” that the stadium would be discussed. Meeting agendas were released and no first “shovel in the ground date” could be found even in the fine print.

parking lots

There are 10 lots that will be mostly empty for tailgating on Saturday, plus a couple of garages for those who do not plan to tailgate.

An argument could be made both for and against a stadium and former Temple player Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub made such an argument against in this space a couple of weeks ago. My feelings have simply been this: If the university has reached the point where it feels it can no longer deal in good faith with the Philadelphia Eagles, then build the stadium. If it has created the conflict with the intent of going ahead and doing what it wanted to do in the first place, that would be a sad pretense on which to build.

It may have already reached one of those two crossroads. Five years of due diligence could be coming to an end and, hopefully, the university is doing what it has to do and not building it because it just wants to do it.

owlstudents

If it can cut a deal with the Eagles similar to what the Pittsburgh Steelers have with Pitt, then there is no reason to build. The alternative–Franklin Field–is not acceptable. Temple would have to have stadium control on Saturdays for television purposes and Penn, with its $6.9 billion endowment, could not be enticed to give that up to a school with a $579 million endowment.

Fizzy says the “neighborhood does not want it” but maybe if the neighborhood could get assurances that none of their houses would be torn down–and they won’t–and that local high schools like Engineering and Science can play their football games there and that stadium jobs would be available to immediate residents first, then something could be worked out.

Fizzy’s second point was that “Temple doesn’t need it.” If it wants to be a program that gets on television, and LFF’s rent is too high, that point could be disabused.

Fizzy’s third point was that “it closes off 15th Street” but 13th Street was closed for most of my four years at Temple due to various building projects between then Columbia Avenue and Norris and nobody died because they had to use Broad Street to travel Northbound.

studenttailgate

Student tailgate central

No. 4: “Parking Will Be Scattered Around Campus making it very difficult for older fans to walk to the stadium.” It’s not asking much to walk from, say, the No. 10 Lot at 11th and Norris to 15th and Norris but, I’m sure the university could provide a mode of transportation, maybe golf carts, for those who don’t feel they can make it. Owlclub members will probably get preferential parking in the McGonigle Hall outside lot, so that’s an option.

No. 5 is “there will be no common tailgating area” but that’s really not needed. Really, is the tailgating “one common experience” or is it smaller groups scattered throughout Lot K now? To me, it’s smaller groups who tailgate together and go in separately. Plus, students who take up a large part of Lot K now will be funneled to Liacouras Walk for their own tailgates. The official alumni tailgates now conducted under a large tent closer to the Linc entrance can be moved to the Bell Tower.

No. 6 “traffic will be horrendous” doesn’t really apply to football because fans usually don’t get there five minutes before a game. Their arrival is scattered starting with the opening of the lots five hours before the game, not five minutes, with groups filtering in four, three and two hours before the game. Traffic won’t be great, but it won’t be horrendous, either.

No. 7 “don’t take the subway” doesn’t really come into play, either because there is a perfectly good regional rail station located right on Temple’s campus that provides the kind of transportation option fans do not have going to LFF now. In fact, if the new stadium is built, my days of taking the subway to the Temple games–which I have done for 15 years–are over. I will hop on the Regional Rail and be at Temple in 20 minutes.

No. 8 “the Linc has easy accessibility” is true, but a football game is an event lasting from the start of tailgates to the end of the game and that’s an all-day deal.  Again, I don’t see all the traffic arriving at the same time. If you want to drive, get off the Roosevelt Boulevard extension and make your way down Broad Street.

No. 9 “Temple will lose a large percentage of its older fans” and some of their contributions. I’m an older fan. They won’t lose me but the point is that the university has 40,000 students now and must cultivate that fan base which really has not been tapped into seriously. This stadium could create the kind of experience for them that binds them to the university for decades to come.

No. 10 “Temple will incur a large unnecessary debt” could be true, but the bean counters running the university say it will be more than offset by combining the money they pay for rent now with revenue gained from parking and concessions and the retail element of the stadium.

To me, there is a larger issue involved that goes beyond signage on the field or comfort in the stands. In my lifetime, I have never experienced a real home-field advantage following the Owls except for maybe the Tulane game in 2015 when all 35,000 fans were screaming their heads off for Temple. Getting 35,000 fans in a defined space on top of the field and making so much noise that the bad guys’ quarterback has to use hand signals to snap the ball is something I’d like to see before I leave this earth. It hasn’t worked for the beautiful new on-campus basketball facility, but maybe football is another animal.

The university needs to end five years of constipation on this issue and bleep or get off the pot.

Friday: The G5-P5 Conundrum

Monday: A Book That Needs To Be Written 

21 thoughts on “Ten Reasons To Build The Stadium

  1. Saint Rhule said God wanted Derreck Thomas to play for him at holy Baylor.

    • I wish he would keep his grubby hands off our players.

      • As I’ve said in the past Rhule was just a slicker, more successful version of Addazio. Nothing wrong with that, it’s the way things are for most of the teams not in the P5

      • this is bigger than most folks realize, and on multiple levels…., “recruit, develop, keep, and graduate”

        the 72nd ranked recruiting class, mixed results on the field, and now losing two potential starters?

        how many players were marginally better this past year than they were the previous year? only Randall comes to mind

        The jury is still out on Collins., judgment has been rendered on both his OC and DC..,

        bottom line: after two great seasons, Temple has fallen to a middle of the pack G5 school.., both Maryland and BC will destroy this team next year

  2. Rhule would have been a great snake-oil salesman back in the 1880s. I could see him as a barker at a carnival now: “Step right on up and get this snake oil. It’ll cure every ill you have.”

  3. Back to the point: Thoughts on the stadium. Why does this can kept being kicked down the road? My thinking is that they realize deep down they have to get permission from the city to do it and it’s just not coming.

    • George, I think that is a big part of it along with perhaps a realization that for the budget numbers that have been mentioned what can be built will be closer to a larger version of the new sports complex, a bare bones stadium with little if any of the other features, like retail, education space etc. that have been mentioned throughout the process. I haven’t been there but have seen a number of negative comments regarding Tulane’s new stadium which given Temple’s budget numbers would be a best case scenario here

  4. I’ve proposed many of these points previously to many TU officials but have never heard them voiced by any TU official. Their behind the scenes advocacy is wrong-headed and counter-productive. They should be shouting these points from roof tops so that the public know that there are pluses in building a stadium and not all negatives as the anti-stadium crowd is screaming. TU has to get out in front of this thing. Being from New York, I’ve noticed that Philly likes being second. By that I mean that Philadelphians are happy that Philly isn’t New York. A perfect example of that is how long it took to build a building higher than William Penn’s cap. The same theory applies here. Many people I’ve spoken to about the stadium complain that TU is trying to be Penn State in football, as if that’s a bad thing. I just don’t understand why trying to be the best is frowned upon in Philly. In any event, at the last tail gate I was talking to a higher up in the athletic department who said that TU is on the five yard line with respect to the stadium. I did not have the heart to ask whether it was TU’s five yard line or the opponents’. I guess we’ll know one of these years.

    • If they are at the 5 and trying to get this ball across the line without running behind the political version of Nick Sharga or Rob Ritrovato, they’ll end up punting from the 36 on 4th down.

  5. …..and back in the real world there wont be 1,250 for Temple’s BB game w Cincinnati (including the people who have to be there).

    • There won’t be many people at the Cinncy game because of the snow and the starting time. I know TV money is important but no eastern time zone team should have to play at nine on a work or school night. It means not getting home til after midnight.

      • …and the excuse for the 85% empty arena vs Tulane at 7 PM and a clear night ?

      • It also doesn’t help that Temple is still on winter break. Temple will have to rely on local alumni and students to show up tonight in today’s horrible weather. Hopefully playing a top 25 in conference team is enough incentive.

      • This was one game I was planning to go but don’t have wheels and rely on public transportation and my Septa app shows only canceled trains from Glenside. I guess if TV told Temple to play at midnight when school was on break, Temple would do it.

  6. Traveling with the team I got to go to my fair share of stadiums around the country. Though I saw 60k at ECU, 100K at PSU, and even 69K at the linc, nothing was ever as loud as Houston’s 35K for the championship game in 2015.

    To your closing point Mike, built correctly, our stadium of 35,000 students and alumni can be one hell of an atmosphere.

  7. FWIW I saw Mayor Kenney courtside at the Villanova MBB. Philadelphia needs to show its open for business if they want to attract Amazon and other job creators.

  8. #9. Some older fans should stay home and watch the games on ESPN with a Geritol and Tonic. I’m retired and moved to the opponent’s side of the field years ago with the cool people. We have fun win or lose. Much less whining and more cheering. Highly Recommended! Someday I’ll be in the senior center watching on TV and sending in my Conwell checks. That’s life.

  9. That walk you cite Mike is about as far as one walks from the subway to LFF. So no difference from what some do now.

  10. Considering everything, all angles, practicalities, emotions, politics, etc. the most sensible thing to pursue is a reasonable deal with Lurie at LFF. Barring that, keep an OCS as inexpensive as possible and one that will accomodate expansion and improvements later as attendance and revenues increase.

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