On a scale of 1-to-10, the possibility of Temple building a new football stadium reaching fruition looked like a one.
From the university’s perspective, that’s not a good number.
It was learned that Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos stepped in to mediate a deal between the city, community residents and Temple. If the deal is approved by City Council, Amazon will built its H2Q on the site of the stadium and the proposed outdoor stadium will now become a 35,000-seat Carrier Dome-like indoor stadium below the H2Q.
The working name of the stadium will The Apollo of Amazon at Temple and it will be built entirely underground and completely out of site of the community.
“Hey, we want to build our H2Q in Philadelphia, but we didn’t really like any of the sites,” Bezos said. “They wanted to put us in University City and the Northeast and we just didn’t like those locations for a number of reasons I won’t get into here. Temple puts us in the middle of a dynamic urban university with a ready-made workforce, near one of the nation’s top business schools and a great public transportation system. We want that site for our headquarters, but we also wanted Temple to achieve its dream of a stadium. I’ve been following the story from the newsroom of The Washington Post (where Bezos is publisher).
“At Amazon, we’re all about what is inside the box but for this I wanted to think outside the box to please all parties. Being at Madison Square Garden recently, I saw that that the arena was located ABOVE Penn Station and thought that if we could put the stadium BELOW H2Q, we could solve a lot of issues. I want our headquarters to look exactly like Madison Square Garden and become the Mecca for business that MSG is to sports.”
Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney agreed.
“The stadium was always a no-go because of the community but this solves a lot of the community issues and gets us that H2Q we’ve always wanted in Philadelphia,” Kenney said. “The stadium will be below ground out of site of the community and walking to it will be similar to walking down to take the train in NYC now. That Temple Stadium is out of sight and out of mind of the community and we get our economic driver in Amazon as a beacon to a prosperous future in Philadelphia.”
Bezos said he approached the solution as he would solving a math problem.
“It was always a number’s game,” he said. “One, the city doesn’t want the stadium. Two, the city wanted us more than it was against the stadium. Three, we could get naming rights for the extra $40 million it would take to put the stadium underground. Shuffle all of those numbers together and this was a deal that added up. If Dubai can have a 35,000 football (soccer) stadium, it’s about time the United States has one and we will make it happen.”
Bezos said that at one end of the field there will be a halogram with a “very realistic” view of the Center City skyline, giving the impression that it is a night time outdoor stadium. At the other end, there will be a state-of-the art 3D video board “much nicer than the HDTV one at Lincoln Financial Field.” During timeouts, Amazon Prime commercials will be aired.
“The ceiling of the stadium will be our floor but it will be painted as if it is a clear night with stars,” Bezos said. “There will be no feeling of claustrophobia inside the stadium.”
Darrell L. Clarke, City Council president, said the community seemed placated by this deal.
“Not everyone, though,” Clarke said. “I would say most of the community was thrilled by the promise of jobs for community members at the H2Q site. They liked that part. The actual coming to work part, well, not so much. I had a few of the Stadium Stompers say they are changing the name of the group to the Amazon Adversaries. If the Adversaries convince me they don’t want Amazon in the neighborhood, then I will not support it.”
Happy April Fool’s Day Everyone
Tuesday: The Rest of the Story