Wingard speaks: Stadium is dead

Funny how a done deal goes from one perception of done to another.

Two of my very good friends, I will call them Mark and Dave (because those are their real first names) are about as anti-on-campus-stadium as anyone I’ve ever met.

Me?

Kinda riding the fence on this issue but would not have minded falling into the yard on the other side. My reasoning simply is this: Since the 1970s I haven’t seen a real home-field advantage for Temple football in my lifetime.

A great home-field advantage (once)

Yeah, the Penn State game in 2015 where 35K Temple fans went crazy while 35K Penn State fans sat on their hands was kinda it but not really. Probably the Tulane game a few weeks later game closest (Owls won, 48-14) before 35K fans, all but a couple of hundred rooting for Temple.

Give me the 1970s era West Virginia game where, in a 20K seat stadium, 14K fans were going crazy for the home team at Temple Stadium in a 39-36 win. Or maybe another game in the same decade where a sellout crowd of 20K in a 20K-seat stadium roared for Temple in a 34-7 win over Boston College.

I was at both games.

The first, as a kid, I walked out of Temple Stadium hearing the chants “We Want Nebraska!” on Bayard Strett walking back to the cars. (Nebraska was the No. 1 team in the country at the time; Temple just had beaten the No. 19 team.)

The second came as a sophomore at Temple when the Owls avenged their only loss of a 9-1 season with a 34-7 win over Boston College the next season, an 8-2 one for Wayne Hardin.

As an adult, I hoped to see a similar home-field advantage for my favorite sports team again. Nothing in the Temple fan department since (Franklin Field and LFF) ever compared to those days at Temple Stadium from the standpoint of the way TEMPLE FANS influenced the outcome of a football game.

After listening to Jason Wingard recently, I realized I probably won’t ever see anything like it again.

Sad, not for me necessarily but for the generations of Temple fans after me who never experienced anything like it.

Wingard has basically said (see the above video) that Temple has given up its previously stated dream of building an on-campus stadium and is satisfied with Lincoln Financial Field.

That’s OK to Mark and Dave who still blame Temple fans for not filling a 70K-seat stadium. To me, asking Temple to fill a 70K-seat stadium or even bring 40K consistently on a regular basis has never been a good business model considering that the concept of supply and demand rules the business world.

The Temple Board of Trustees, when it approved the plans for an OCS, cited that reality. Cutting the supply (of tickets) would increase the demand and Temple was much more likely to fill a 35K stadium than ever filling even half of a 70K-stadium.

At one time, the BOT was all-in on a stadium. When this story is written 100 years from now, they will say a great university of 40K students, 12K employees, and 250K alumni let 20 or so neighbors push them around.

Someone or some group got to Wingard and supplied the talking points.

That was probably the Board of Trustees.

Since the disastrous meeting with the “community” three years ago in March, obviously, the BOT has waived the white flag on the stadium. During Wingard’s interview before accepting the President’s job, that was probably communicated to him as well.

Wingard is simply toeing the company line. A lot of my fellow Temple fans are holding onto the “not at this time” statement as if there will be another time.

There won’t. Not under this President or the next or even the next one after that. You’ve got to bulldoze a lot of residences and create a lot of Temple “green space” before that happens.

Not good news for me but terrific news for fellow Temple fans who I respect like Mark and Dave. They like the creature comforts of the Linc and think an on-campus stadium would be a disaster.

They are as entitled to their opinions as I am to mine. To me, I’ve always felt that Temple deserves to have an on-campus stadium as much as the marquee schools in other cities (Boston College in Boston, Georgia Tech in Atlanta, USF in Tampa, UAB in Birmingham, etc.) deserve to have on-campus stadiums as well. Those schools never let neighborhood opposition stop them from building anything they want on their own property nor should Temple.

In the 2012 NCAA tournament basketball win over North Carolina State, a million-dollar Temple contributor told Mark that the on-campus stadium was a “done deal.”

Yeah it’s done, but not in the way that guy (RIP) described.

Maybe someday 100 years from now when I’m long gone and watching Temple play in the ACC from the clouds above, I will heard a loud “Let’s Go Temple!” chant from a packed on-campus stadium.

That will not happen in my lifetime or most of yours.

If Wingard’s statement reflected anything, it’s a done deal.

Done bad, not done good.

Monday: Who da man?

Friday: Pre-Cherry and White

Monday (4/11): Post Cherry and White

19 thoughts on “Wingard speaks: Stadium is dead

  1. Mike, I remember playing at Temple Stadium, both soccer, then football, then the move to the Vet. My memories of Temple Stadium remain real. I first played soccer on the Temple turf as a 14 year old, prior to A Philadelphia Spartans NASL game. Having a dream to play there again. That dream happened 6 years later on the Temple soccer team. I saw the last quarter of the Temple West Virginia game after returning from a Temple soccer away game. Then i saw Nick Mike-Mayer kick, and dreamed that I could do what Nick was doing, kicking field goals. That dream happened two years later. The vision for an OCS is still just that,a dream. I still have hope for the revival of this dream. As you said, we likely will never experience an on campus football game, the pregame tailgate , march in, and the excitement it would create for students and the alum’s. The site does not affect neighborhood housing like the local councilman laments. I will still hold onto the dream. Stranger things can happen.

    • He was so adamant about the issue in that interview that I have my doubts. Temple once considered a carrier dome like facility where the. LC is now but instead went with the basketball arena, a real mistake IMHO.

      • PLJ was asked to pursue a football stadium right after the LC was built. It made since back then with the momentum of the LC going on at the time. PJL replied that he was too tired to pursue a 2nd big project on the heels of the LC. He knew that he would be going into a 2nd back to back fight to get it done. Theobald was actually the one who could have gotten us the stadium. He was the only one willing to fight for it. He was ready to go up against city pols and neighborhood groups.

  2. Great memories of Temple stadium. I remember a young kid drilling his first high-pressure FG as we all held our collective breaths.

  3. Disappointing development here. I had expected positive movement on this with a black President and AD in place and both coming from P5 bakgrounds. It’s a small item in a much bigger picture, but more evidence of the ineptness of the BOT.

  4. Back in the mid-to-late 60s I was a student at Tyler School of Art up in Elkins Park and was a member of TU’s track and field team which practiced and held home meets at old Temple Stadium not far from Tyler off Cheltenham Ave. – great memories. Since then Tyler has been moved to the downtown main campus. Too bad they couldn’t figure out how to do the same for an OCS. I still can’t understand how throwing outsized rent money at Lurie to use the LINC is financially feasible. Is it the BOT or does Lurie control purse strings with Temple’s BOT members? – gotta wonder. There’s something going there that we’ll probably never know. Damn shame. I still like your idea Mike of turning the EO field into a small stadium (or choosing another on-campus site that the “neighbors” can’t fuss about) – THAT makes financial sense!

  5. I too have fond memories of the old stadium in West Oak Lane. I actually saw our Owls lose to Susquehanna back in the 60s! They acted like they had just won the national championship as the game ended! Then there was the move to the Vet where you could expect a “crowd” of 10 or 15 K for most games. Now we play at the Linc, having to grind out a contract with one Jeffrey Lurie. But I really have no issues in playing there. Lot-K a great place to tailgate! Easy to get to for us out-of-towners with our own vehicles! Yeah, an on-campus stadium would be nice, but ain’t gonna happen IMO. Of course, another location such as Ambler for an OCS might work. But that likely won’t happen either, at least not in this long-time Owl fan’s lifetime.

    • With 12. K students living on campus, the only logical place is on campus. There are plenty of FBS schools (even some P5s) that don’t have 12K in the whole school, let alone living on campus. Closing 15th Street is not feasible but maybe closing Diamond and 10th (not as important a North/South thoroughfare) could be accomplished.

  6. Mike, Correct, the only realistic location is the Main Campus. It would change Temple’s on campus dynamic considerably hosting home football games. The campus housing has expanded several blocks west of Broad and south of Cecil B. Moore and further south of Girard Ave. Getting several thousand students to games would be a norm. The new stadium included entertainment venues along Broad Street a well. The traffic study did manage to assume the 15th street closure as doable. It frequency occurs throughout the City, such as at Girard College, and Amtrak. Unlike the impact to Ambler, a primarily a residential community, the OCS would be a benefit to the campus and surrounding area. The neighborhood “political atmosphere” is the greatest issue. I was the Construction Manager, hired by the City of Philadelphia for the design build of the new 22nd Police District facility, still located just west of campus. Something desperately important to the neighborhood. After 16 months of design and engineering completed, and the funding in place, the neighborhood rejected its construction. Naturally, I do not live at 2nd and Diamond, perhaps if I did, I would understand the neighborhood. The SEPTA rail station has been replaced as well. My hopes remain for a breakthrough. But I am not holding my breath.

    • Yes, the only thing blocking Temple football from having it’s own stadium is politics. I would go further and even say the thing that is keeping Philly from being a world class city is also politics. They make many dumb decisions with the end result being more crime and worst schools. A classmate of mine was going to run for state senator in the area until he realized that the local party had already pre-selected the winner. He was trained as a Phd level economist. He correctly pointed out that while other areas of the city have changed economically over the decades, N. Philly has not. No progress has been made over the last 40 years when you look at things like household income.

  7. Two things I learned during 27 years in the US Army. Never, ever, give up; and, don’t start a war you can’t win.

    The BOT is lacking intellect, ingenuity, and balls. My heart stays w/TUFB, my money stays in my pocket until the BOT gets an American fighting spirit.

    SMH

  8. Two things I learned during 27 years in the US Army. Never, ever, give up; and, don’t start a war you can’t win.

    The BOT is lacking intellect, ingenuity, and balls. My heart stays w/TUFB, my money stays in my pocket until the BOT gets an American fighting spirit.

    SMH

    • Can’t believe being shouted down when Temple was the good faith partner in a community meeting would spook a lot of successful people into giving up having what almost every major American football power has — a campus stadium.So sad that the BOT caved.

      • There is o question in my mind that a main campus stadium would be a huge plus for the neighborhood. The reasons mentioned above by Don Bitterlich support that notion. I believe the surrounding neighborhood folks and others have been misinformed by a small group of noisy opponents to the idea! Just like the Liacouras Center, an OCS on N. Broad would be a big plus for the university and for the surrounding area, and the city as well. But as I mentioned above, it’s not likely to happen any time soon (if at all). Certainly it would take a major effort by by an influential and determined group to put this back on the table.

  9. off topic. see u tube channel j quigg 19. TU v Delaware games 82 and 83, not full games

  10. Mike I am living down here in the city so I have an inside view of things. I know several city pols on a first name basis. I only brought up the Temple stadium one time to my council person and she said there was no support for it (meaning D. Clarke). For a stadium to happen, Temple would need to be in a position where it is absolutely needed. For example is we were joining the ACC and they required one. With the Linc available for rent, the urgency for a Temple stadium is lowered. So the those who want a campus stadium should hope that the Eagles kick us out of theirs! LOL! … Now what probably will happen is that Temple will reach a point where they can not afford to be at the Eagles stadium. So heck, the Eagles could force us out with too high of a rent….
    A new development working against the stadium is crazy high crime in the city. Pres Wingard is under pressure to reduce crime on an near campus. 30K fans would make it harder he is probably thinking. He just forced out the head of security, that’s how bad things have gotten. Personally I think that the stadium would make the campus more safe with more officers on patrol and more people in the area.
    So what do I think will happen? I think that in less than 10 years Temple will have no choice but to go for a stadium. The cost at the Linc will be too high. I think that we pay $3 mil per season right now. Soon it will hit $6 million. Way to much for 6 games a year …. In the long run, the Linc only works financially if we are in the ACC or Big Ten …. As we are right now, football at Temple is doomed without our own stadium …

  11. Mike,
    An OCS would elevate athletics across the board at TU. You have a great biz school at TU, task them with finding uses in addition to football to generate revenue and enhance city- gown relationships. Concerts and other entertainment, have the Union play a game in the city, put an outdoor ice skating rink for students/ host rugby tournaments, host NCAA women and mens events. If you sell it as a football stadium it doesn’t work, you have to sell the benefits to the entire university, city and greater Philadelphia market.
    Now Wingard also might be conscious of the NIL collectives which are going to further separate the haves and have-nots of college football. He might even consider that without an alumni that will spend crazy $ for an NIL collective your program is dead man walking. Who cares who coaches when big time schools can legally have an NIL collective that will pay lineman 50k for various appearances. It is legal and TU will never have money to commit to a collective, heck due to the success of their basketball program Villanova will have more success recruiting in football than Temple. Won’t be close. You are going to have to have super deep pockets to stay competitive and let’s face it – Temple doesn’t. They are unfortunately going to fall behind in hoops further as big schools will have NIL $ to plow into all sports. Football will elevate NIL $ for PSU hoops.
    Only strategy would be focus on non revenue generating sports to compete. If you haven’t read about the Texas A&M, Nike Collective at Oregon or Penn States multiple collectives, look it up and you will see where things are headed. Sorry to say, but TU football is going to be at a huge disadvantage. Don’t tell me Matt Rhule could change things- when one school gives a WR 30k in NIL$ and the other gives 5k- where would you go.

  12. Anyone who thinks a college football team doesn’t need it’s own stadium has never been to a college football game at a team’s own stadium. It’s not a stadium, it’s a home. It’s a place you can become part of. The Eagles’ stadium is the Eagles’ stadium. Temple is basically playing a road game. It’s not a home. I played D3 football and even our tiny stadium felt like home. When I transferred to Temple, I attended all home games at the Vet. There was poor Lance Johnstone playing his heart before me and three other people in the stands in was appeared to be a road game for everyone. It’s a shame and it all goes back to my previous comment that Temple wants to have great success with football sans spending any money. It doesn’t work like that. I’m never donating another dollar Temple ever again until they make this a real goal. It’s embarrassing. Shameful. The people making decisions at Temple have NO CLUE what they are doing. They use the surrounding neighborhoods as an excuse so they can keep that money in their pockets.

    • I would not be so hard on the TU admin when it comes to the stadium. They did most of the correct moves except to directly engage the local pol who has the clout to shut it all down and he has. Temple doesn’t stand a chance at a stadium with the current political lineup. My hope now is that TU keeps a plot of land open so that if the political climate changes, they can bring the stadium issue up again. In reality things are heading in the opposite direction. A new Bill from the city gives the local pols even more clout over what gets built. Expect fewer construction projects of any type in most areas of the city. It’s crazy but the new leaders in city hall are very anti-business and very anti-progress. They want to keep things as they are or they want to increase poverty in the city.
      Amazon decided to not build their 2nd headquarters here because of the lack of a business friendly climate.

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