A week ago, the guy who holds the hammer in this whole Temple Stadium controversy wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer to express his feelings on the project.
If you read the entire thing, he’s against it, essentially saying Temple should “pump the brakes” on a new campus stadium.
The guy is Darrell Clarke. The way politics works in Philadelphia is that the councilman in any district has veto power over a project in his district.
Clarke is not only the Philadelphia City Council President, he is the councilman in that very district. He can afford to tell Temple University to pump the brakes on the project. Temple University cannot afford to wait due to the timeline of its lease with Lincoln Financial Field running out in 2020.
The “community” is vigorously against this project. It’s not 50-50. It’s not even 80-20. It’s more like 90-10. This is not a similar case to what is now the Liacouras Center when palms needed to be greased in order to move the project forward. There simply is not enough oil here to move the gears.
If Clarke says “pumps the brakes” Temple should then recognize what intersection it is approaching and make a left turn.
It appears as though the City of Philadelphia, which really holds the hammer here, will never give Temple the permissions to close 15th Street forever (between Norris and Montgomery) to appease the residents who vote for Clarke in every election. Without 15th closed, there is only one other open space on the Main Campus large enough to build what Temple needs.
The left turn Temple needs to make is at 15th and Montgomery, make a right at Broad Street and travel a couple of blocks south to Masters to build the stadium. The city has no grounds to oppose a football stadium at The Temple Sports Complex since two stadiums have been existing there without opposition for two years and no closure of any street would be necessary. Even if the City would try to block a stadium at that site, Temple–with the most graduates of any school in Pennsylvania appeals courts–probably would prevail on the argument that it was allowed to build dorms and classrooms on its property and should be able to build a needed “multi-purpose” facility there as well.
If not, you can forget about a new stadium at best and Temple football at worst. If Temple football is forced to return to that dump called Franklin Field, the program is doomed. Chester’s 18,500-soccer stadium is a far worse option. If the Phillies ever exit Citizens Bank Park, that would be ideal but that appears to be at least 20 years down the road that is called Broad Street.
The uni would have to do something it said it cannot do—pay the Philadelphia Eagles a $3 million a year lease to rent Lincoln Financial Field on top of a one-time “stadium improvement fee” of $12 million.
Of course, this can all be avoided if the BOT would change plans and build the stadium at The Temple Sports Complex.
On first glance, building a football stadium over a brand new $22 million Olympic Sports Complex would be an admission by Temple that it made a mistake building that facility there and they would not do that.
There is a precedence, though. A few years earlier, the same board of trustees spent $12 million less to build an Olympic sports complex in Ambler that included also baseball and softball and abandoned it for the Broad and Masters facility.
If they can do that then, they can do this now. The Olympic sports teams can be moved back to Geasey Field.
Running out of time and options, it is the logical thing to do and, in this political climate, the sooner the better.
Monday: Above The Line