Johnson’s biggest project yet to come?

Plenty of room to build a 10,000-seat North end zone plus getting rid of those few houses (quite a few currently boarded up) across 10th Street would give the Owls a 25,000-seat West Grandstand.

If only a Rod Carey football game plan had as many surprises as the introductory press conference of new Temple football coach Stan Drayton, the Owls might have won enough games to keep Mr. Boring in charge today.

One surprise struck me, though.

Johnson said this in front of the assembled media when asked about his involvement in picking Drayton: “I had a chance to get to know Stan while we worked together at the University of Texas. He is an outstanding football coach and an even better person. He knows what success looks like at the highest levels of football. He also knows what it takes to be successful in this city having spent six years of his career here and learned from two of the city’s legendary football coaches.”

The only way TU can convince Norris Street neighbors to build at 15th Street is to give them all new houses overlooking the new stadium like this and that might be cost prohibitive.

No more than minutes later, Johnson said this in a smaller post-conference gathering:

“I don’t think my being at Texas was a big part of Stan being hired here. I was involved in about $675 million dollars of building projects there so I only knew him superficially.”


We went from “get to know” to the connection “not being a big part.”

That wasn’t key thing, though, Johnson said as far as Temple football’s future.

“I was involved in about $675 million of building projects …”

Four months ago, Temple was looking for an AD and, of the four finalists, only one was involved in any significant building projects.

The Board of Trustees hired that guy.

This is the same board of trustees that voted nearly unanimously to submit a plan to the City of Philadelphia that closed a portion of 15th Street permanently to build a $250 million football stadium and only backed off when they were confronted by a small but angry group of community residents one memorable March night a few years ago.

Presumably, they still want to build it and must feel Johnson is the point guy to get this project done like he did so many in Austin, Texas.

Now, with President Jason Wingard in place along with Johnson and Drayton, the Owls have three high-profile African-American point men to convince a mostly African-American community that this is in the best interest of both the university and the community.

To me, getting this done requires some thinking outside the box in addition to the personalities involved.

Closing 15th Street–even between Norris and Montgomery–seems to be a non-starter so the administration should be looking for another place to build.

They got the community to come on board for a $22 million athletic facility at Broad and Master a few years ago that is used 87 times a year, not the six times Temple will use a new football stadium. Since a trade building was part of that deal, knocking it down to build a football stadium there (and moving the Olympic sports to 15th and Norris) probably also is a non-starter.

How about using the Edberg-Olson facility as the new stadium?

There’s already a regulation 100-yard field there, plus enough room for a 10,000-seat North End zone and a 25,000-seat West Side. The current E-O offices can be used for a small (maybe 1,000-seat Owl Club super box plus press box) area.

The only concessions the university would need from the city is to close 10th Street from Susquehanna to Diamond and that would seem easier to do than 15th from Norris to Montgomery. Tenth Street is not as viable a thoroughfare as 15th Street is and nowhere near the number of residents would be impacted on the Edberg Olson side of the campus.

For the time it takes to build the stadium, the football team can move its practices and offices to Geasey Field. If needed, another $10 million practice facility can be constructed at 15th and Norris. (That’s where the Owl football team practiced from 1974-2004.)

That’s the kind of thinking outside the box that Johnson did at UT.

If he can pull that game plan off at UT, he should be able to do it at TU. Hell, considering his resume, that’s what they might have hired him to do.

Monday: Humility Personified

11 thoughts on “Johnson’s biggest project yet to come?

  1. This would be great location. Septa Access is right there also

  2. I’ve wondered about that idea for a long time but never knew if the field was regulation size. I also wonder if it’s legal to build a seating structure OVER the street so the street doesn’t need to be closed down, especially since it’s not a high use street to begin with. At any rate, 25-35K seems plenty big enough for TU football at this time since that’s about all they get to games anyway – rent the LINC just for games with PSU, ND, etc. And it would have to be less expensive too and free up all that rent money going to Jeff. Interesting idea….

  3. PS: Also wouldn’t a double teer seating structure work – seats over top of a lower level? Go up, not out. All big stadiums do this.

    • I imagine that would work. Clearing out those houses and closing 10th Street would supply more than enough seating. Can’t touch the regional rail side but boy would that make it a lot easier for Temple fans from the suburbs to get door-to-door from their house to the stadium. That regional rail element is a key. The only reason you need the Broad Street subway is for Temple students to get from dorms to the Linc and that wouldn’t be needed as they can roll out of bed and walk a couple of blocks to the game. Why is that other schools in big cities (Boston, Atlanta, D.C metro, now even Tampa) allow their major universities to build on campus but it meets with opposition in Philadelphia?

  4. People on this site may not care about environmental concerns, but here’s another huge benefit to using the existing facilities and just adding on at the EO. I just read an article in Sierra Magazine about adaptive reuse getting a new thrust in the architectural field (it’s not a new idea but is gaining needed emphasis from a sustainability angle). Without going into a lot of details, adding on instead of starting from scratch, retrofitting and reusing are ways to help with our environmental problems and is much less costly in a variety of ways. Temple has an architecture department at Tyler and a sustainability office. They should join forces with the administration and Athletic dept. and start planning for a stadium at the EO. Just do it! It would also solve so many other problems that have been in the way of having an OCS. I love this idea – it’s the answer!

  5. I also like the thought that the EO is hard by the railroad tracks. It adds to the Philly, hard hat, Temple Tough concept.

  6. No to NoPhilly for myriad reasons. The city should find an appropriate location for Temple Football Stadium that includes public transit, environmental cleanup, etc. Broad and Pattison should be on the top of the table.

    • Verified crime statistics confirm No Philly is the City’s most dangerous neighborhood. Would an on campus stadium be a positive or negative effect?

      The stadium needs a big time donor/entity with political clout to make it happen. TU has proven it can’t match wits….., it needs a giant.

  7. Question about the side across 10th street, wasn’t new housing built there or are those units south of the E-O complex. For me, really like this idea since I can hop on the West Trenton line on game days.

    • Me, too. That’s the way I get to the games now. I hop off at Temple, walk across the campus, then hop on the BSL. Would be a lot easier to get on at Fox Chase and be at the doorstep of the stadium in 20 minutes, rather than the over an hour (walking on campus and in South Philly factored in, too) now. As far as you other question, when I crossed 10th Street (BC game in October), more houses on my right were boarded up than not but some people (maybe 40 percent) were living in the non-boarded up houses. That includes the area where the West Grandstad would be. I guess the uni can buy those properties and give those residents an offer they can’t refuse. Seems more likely to be able to do this than move the Norris street group.

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