Design and fashion: Temple’s New Stadium

Probably the worst design of any new college football stadium I’ve ever seen so maybe no stadium now is a good thing.

While working on painting a wall at a Senior Center for my in-service day on the MLK Holiday a few days ago, I thought about perhaps the most remarkable speech of my lifetime.

That wasn’t Martin Luther King’s more famous “I have a Dream Speech” at the Washington Monument but the speech he made before he died, the “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech in April of 1968.

In that one, MLK said, “I’ve been to the Mountaintop but I might not get there with you” almost foretelling his assassination only a few hours away.

While I haven’t been to the Temple Football Mountaintop, I can only guess what it could be. I did think of how this related to Temple while splashing some red paint on the SC center in Northeast Philadelphia on Monday. (Close enough to Cherry.)

I haven’t been to the Mountaintop but I know the new Temple Stadium probably won’t happen in my lifetime but I think it will well within the next 50 years and that’s close enough.

No doubt in my mind these guys will see a new stadium as alums.

The reason I had that vision is nowhere near as spiritual as MLK’s but based on a few facts.

As an incoming student in the 1970s, I was given a tour of Temple’s campus in an attempt to “recruit” me. (I had a full scholarship offer to Cabrini but chose Temple for sports and journalism.) The tour guide said where we were there was residential housing only “20 years ago.” Twenty years ago would have been in the 1950s then and we were what is now in the middle of Temple’s campus–on Liacouras Walk near the Bell Tower.

Wow.

In those 20 years, Temple facilitated the removal of neighborhood people to build the interior of the campus.

While sitting in Temple’s presentation to the “current” neighbors about five years ago in March, I came to the conclusion that removing those neighbors by the natural course of things will be the only way Temple will ever be able to build a stadium.

Like then, that takes time.

If Georgia Tech can have a stadium like this in Atlanta, Temple should be able to have the same in Philadelphia.

If those properties become so valuable that these once poor neighbors become rich once they move, capitalism will achieve the result no amount of begging and cajoling politicians has now.

Unlike my fellow Temple Stadium fans, that is a good thing, not a bad one.

Once I saw the original plan for a Temple Stadium, I thought this was no more than a glorified Northeast High School Field. I mean, you hired a great architect and that was the best plan you could come up with?

Why not make it look like Boston College’s Alumni Field or Georgia Tech’s field?

Putting it off will give Temple the time not only to consolidate 15th and Norris into the “Green Zone” but build a stadium that would give the Owls a real home-field advantage.

We can only hope.

The current administration has no stomach to challenge the neighbors on what I feel is justified grounds. I mean, if Georgia Tech is allowed to build a stadium in the center of Atlanta and UAB in the center of Birmingham why is it out of the question for Temple to do the same in Philadelphia?

No logical reason other than the corruption which is currently rampant in the nation’s fifth-largest city.

The last Temple administration at least tried. This one seems to have laid down and rolled over.

Maybe the next one will outlast them.

That’s the Temple football mountaintop. It’s not sustainable to try to sell a product that at most 35K is interested in in a 70K stadium. Thirty-five thousand in a 35,000-seat stadium makes a lot more sense.

That’s a dream, though.

I won’t see it and many of you won’t either.

Temple football will get to the Promised Land but a lot of us older guys may have to watch from above. Hopefully, the current Temple students will see it by their late 40s and it won’t be anything like the video at the top of this post.

It will be something glorious.

Monday: The New Guys

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

King Solomon Solution to a King-Sized Dilemma

image_handler

Kicking the can down the road has been a hallmark of the stadium issue from a figurative standpoint for seven years. Kicking it down the road literally offers perhaps the best solution to a vexing problem.

If you haven’t heard anything on the stadium issue, there are at least a couple of reasons for it.

One, when Mitchell Morgan takes over for Patrick J. O’Connor as the Temple University Board of Trustees chairman on Aug. 1, that big folder marked “Temple Stadium” will be left on his desk along with another one “candidates to replace Dick Englert.” (Englert has held the job as President since Neil Theobald was let go three years ago.)

If there was every a can kicked down the road, it’s a stadium that was a supposed “done deal” as far back as March 2012 and talked about prior to the Liacouras Center even being built.

Screenshot 2019-02-20 at 6.51.39 PM

Unfortunately, these guys are still around and it looks like a few Temple fans have switched to their side as former Cherry Crusader Luke Butler is listed as “Interested in going” to this event.

 

That’s a little ironic because the final piece in this puzzle could literally be kicking the can down the road.

Splitting the baby was King Solomon’s solution and the Board of Trustees needs to split this baby as painful as it may be but killing off a perfectly good and nearly brand new $22 million Olympic stadium and putting a $130 million football stadium in its place.

Kick the football stadium can down the road to Broad and Master and return the Olympic sports teams back to their original home, Geasey Field, at 15th and Norris. The neighbors who object so strongly to football lived with the Olympic sports for 50 years at Norris Street without any histrionics so it would be disingenuous to object to those sports returning now.

There are really only two solutions now and the preferable one is admitting that the first mistake was trying to build at 15th and Norris. The university did not expect the kind of opposition it got from neighbors at that location, the same neighbors who never objected to the lacrosse and field hockey teams playing there for almost a half-century prior to this latest fiasco.

The second is dropping the whole stadium issue entirely but, before that happens, all other avenues should be exhausted.

There will still be opposition to the Broad and Master site, but the fact that the university had rather large and working stadiums at that site for the last five years should mollify the opposition somewhat. There’s plenty of room for a football stadium at Broad and Master and the fact that by converting it to a football stadium m48akes it less intrusive, not more, on the community that the three sports currently there. Those fields now were used 48 days for home games in the Olympic sports, while football will only be used for six days or nights.

Plus, Morgan Hall, which is used over 300 days a year, is just next to it and the new BOT chair should know something about that high-rise. It was named after him.

Saturday: The Jimmies and the Joes

Temple Wins The Internet

templetweet

According to SI, the most popular team in Pennsylvania is .. Temple

We are now just about a few hours removed from the resolution of the strangest mid-summer controversy in the history of Temple University, the ouster of President Neil D. Theobald.

A couple of things came out of that settlement, one was that the Chairman of the Board, Patrick J. O’Connor, said the forward momentum of the university would keep moving forward in this letter to the Temple community (not to be confused with the North Philadelphia community):

letter

Not in the letter, but something O’Connor made clear to Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was that the stadium project will move forward and Theobald being gone won’t impede progress in that area.

That’s interesting because Temple has had momentum recently, with a hard-fought win on the field against Penn State. The football team also “beat” Penn State in the offseason, winning a Sports Illustrated mention as the most popular team in Pennsylvania.

Keeping that momentum will require another win in State College this fall but, as of now, it was nice to see Temple dominating that state map.

Monday: The Unwashed Masses

Wednesday: The Washed Masses

Friday: New Site For Spring Game?

Another Stadium Misconception

tailgates

The four lots that will no doubt be open for tailgating on game days.

 

talegate

On the list of important issues surrounding the proposed on-campus Temple Stadium, tailgating is about ninth down the list.

Above it are other gauntlet runs like Philadelphia City Council, The Mayor, “The Community” (who knows who represents them, really), the media (an anti-stadium column by Stu Bykofsky appeared recently and Temple haters like David Murphy, Mike Sielski and  Angelo Cataldi, among others, have yet to recently check in) and the unions.

Other than that, it’s smooth sailing to a 2019 opener.



My guess if this
thing is ever built,
it will open closer
to 2021 than 2019,
but the administrators
from Indiana who now
run Temple and never
faced any Philly-like
blowback in Bloomington
will be shocked
soon enough

My guess if this thing is ever built, it will open closer to 2021 than 2019, but the administrators from Indiana who now run Temple and never faced any Philly-like blowback in Bloomington will be shocked soon enough. It will then be up to them to throw in the towel or grind away.

Meanwhile, onto the ninth more pressing issue but one that can be debunked here and now:

“There won’t be any place to tailgate.”

I can personally debunk that because I’ve taken the SEPTA regional rail from Fox Chase to games over the last few years. Since the regional rail doesn’t go from Fox Chase (or anywhere else, really) to Lincoln Financial Field, I’ve made it a point to get off at the Temple University stop and cut through several parking lots and the Bell Tower before making it to the Broad and Columbia (OK, community, Cecil B. Moore) subway station and the 15-minute ride to LFF.

SEPTA_Regional_Rail_map

SEPTA Regional Rail funnels over 100,000 people into Center City every day and has a stop right on the Temple campus.

I can report that all four of those lots (above graphic) were empty or near empty on every single gameday Saturday. That’s where the tailgates will be held.

Lot 1, the McGonigle Hall lot, probably will go to Owl Club members or highest bidders. The other four will probably be first-come, first-serve lots.

The students, who take a large part of Lot K now, will move their tailgates to the Bell Tower and the two walks, named after two guys best known for where the basketball arena is, Peter Liacouras and Dan Polett. Liacouras, because it is named after him, and Polett, whose Wilke-Buick dealership was where the LC stands today.

So the tailgating situation comes under the category of no worries.

The other stuff, I have my doubts.

Temple’s Area No. 79

That's a lot of valuable land recently cleared.

That’s a lot of valuable real estate recently cleared.

My late father, an old Navy officer, knows all about things in the water and one of his favorite sayings was “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.”

If you take a close look at a map that will be introduced as part of a City Council bill, you can see a lot of quacking going on at the corner of 15th and Montgomery.

UFO enthusiasts have Area No. 51 in the Nevada desert to point to as the center of a conspiracy theory. Temple’s on-campus stadium advocates now have Area No. 79.

150145 Map Set, As Introduced (1)

Area No. 79

Area No. 79

Well, look at building No. 79 on this map of something Temple University is introducing in Philadelphia City Council. It is listed as a “proposed building.” That’s an awfully big “building” for that spot right at the corner of 15th and Montgomery. There are three dates on that bill and the next time it is on the docket is for Sept. 30, 2015 which, in case you’ve noticed, is tomorrow. City Council Bill No. 15014500 looks like a you-know-what.

It’s not quite large enough for a stadium, but it is almost twice the size of the current Liacouras Center parking garage. Since the rumored stadium location is an east-west grid that includes Norris Park, Geasey Field, the tennis courts, the Student Pavilion, it looks like the “proposed building” is a parking garage for the new stadium. To me, it would make just as much sense to knock everything down from Montgomery North through Norris and put the stadium right there, but I’m not an urban planner.

Already, some land has been cleared as you can see from the above photo. A few months ago, the Triangle Apartments were knocked down at Broad and Norris, creating a lot of open space between Broad Street and, err, Area No. 79. Throw in the fact that the Student Pavilion is scheduled to be knocked down and that creates more space.

Some big contributors have said that they have been shown a mock drawing of a potential stadium. The rumor going around on Cherry and White Day was a Power 5 invitation was possible only when Temple announced an on-campus stadium.

Temple officials like athletic director Pat Kraft have been playing it coy, saying a stadium would be nice but it was above their heads. Maybe they were talking about the Board of Trustees; maybe it was City Council.

It’s certainly not a done deal yet, but it appears that people are at the table. Someday, someone is going to have to say what Area No. 79 is and that day could be closer than we think.

What Matt Rhule’s Jetpack Has to Do With Stadium Failure

Matt Rhule's Jetpack has been on Go Fund Me for half a month now without a single penny raised.

Matt Rhule’s Jetpack has been on Go Fund Me for half a month now without a single penny raised.

Nothing major gets done at Temple University without it being approved at a Board of Trustees Meeting.

That was true for the Apollo of Temple, now known as the Liacouras Center, and also true for the $50 million basketball practice facility and the $17 million football training facility. To assume that a $300 million stadium is going to get done behind the scenes with all that as a backdrop is a fallacy.

With this Jetpack, Matt will no longer have to take the SEPTA 24 bus to practice.

With this Jetpack, Matt will no longer have to take the SEPTA 24 bus to practice.

Temple people are notoriously protective of what is inside their wallets–perhaps as a Pavlovian Response from spending four years near the edges of the Green Zone (17th Street on the West and 10th Street on the East)–and the strong rumor is that the BOT will not allow discussion of a stadium until $25 million is raised by stadium backers

So another meeting of the BOT having come and gone without a stadium announcement—or even a discussion of a stadium—speaks volumes. Meetings were held in December, March, May and now July without mention of a stadium.

The next question has to be why. For that, all you have to do is look at the funding for Matt Rhule’s Jetpack. As a joke, a poster named “Victory Engineer”  set up a “Go Fund Me” for a Matt Rhule Jetpack on July 3 and posted it on Owlsdaily.com. It has been seen by nearly 2,000 viewers and raised a grand total of zero dollars.

You would think someone, even as a joke, would have given five bucks in two weeks but, so far, nothing.

What does this have to do with a stadium?

Temple people are notoriously protective of what is inside their wallets–perhaps as a Pavlovian Response from spending four years near the edges of the Green Zone (17th Street on the West and 10th Street on the East)–and the strong rumor is that the BOT will not allow discussion of a stadium until $25 million is raised by stadium backers. So far, that figure has fallen far short—about $24 million short—and, at this rate, a stadium will not be discussed until the October meeting.

October, 2068.

It’s time to extend the Lincoln Financial Field lease now and worry about a stadium later.

As far as Matt Rhule’s Jetpack, that has a much better chance of happening on Sept. 6 should the result of the Penn State game turn out to be in the Owls’ favor.

Related:

Get coach Rhule His Jetpack

Why July 14 is the Most Important Date in Temple Sports History

If recent Temple hires in key positions are any clue, the stadium going up at 15th and Norris should look something like this.

If recent Temple hires in key positions are any clue, the stadium going up at 15th and Norris should look something like this.

Usually the middle of July is a dead period in sports as baseball is in the middle of an all-star break, NFL training camp has not started and the NBA, NHL and college football are a couple months away.

For Temple University, though, July 14th might be the most important day in its sports history. That’s because the school’s Board of Trustees will hold a rare meeting amid rumors that there could be talk of an on-campus stadium on the agenda.

meetingminutes

Even if a stadium is not on the docket that could be more telling than if it is because the school’s BOT let a May meeting, a March meeting and a December meeting come and go with no discussion of a stadium. If it is not on this agenda, there likely will be no stadium because the next meeting after this one is in October and the school’s 15-year lease with the Philadelphia Eagles to rent Lincoln Financial Field expires at the end of the 2017 season.

Temple fans on sports message boards seem obsessed with the topic as seemingly innocuous discussion threads get turned into stadium ones at the drop of a hat. When it comes to the people who really matter, the BOT, the topic hasn’t even moved the needle. There were meetings on December 9th, March 11th and May 12th and not a word on the stadium at any of them. That could all change on Tuesday. Or not.

Since the last meeting on May 12, former Indiana University chief bean counter (CFO), Neil Theobald, the current Temple president, kicked a former Indiana U. aide, Kevin Clark, upstairs from AD to No. 2 in command (COO). Then he hired a former Indiana football player, Dr. Pat Kraft, as AD. Yet another former Indiana guy was brought in to raise money for athletics.

If that means a stadium that looks like Indiana’s is about to go up at Broad and Norris, we should know soon.

Or not.

The next meeting after this one does not come until Oct. 13th. By then, any reasonable person could see that there will not be enough time to get shovels into the ground and a stadium completed by the opening day of the 2018 season. Even if it is discussed on Tuesday and approved (highly doubtful), there will be a mad dash to get the stadium done. So if a stadium at Temple is just an unfounded rumor, fans should know by Wednesday. No discussion probably means no stadium, at least not for a decade down the road.

The question of where Temple will play in 2018 is an urgent one.  The logical answer is to extend the Lincoln Financial Field lease. That could be costly because the Eagles are asking for a 300 percent increase in Temple’s $1 million-per-year rent, but it is a price Temple must pay to remain a viable program and about 10 times less costly than building its own stadium.

The AAC, like the Big East before it, will demand that Temple have exclusive rights on Saturdays to a stadium and the only other stadium with a size that fits its needs would be 57,000-seat Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn has those rights so Franklin Field is not an option nor is the 18,000-seat PPL Park.

Temple’s only means toward keeping those rights is to stay where it is right now and build its own stadium and, if the Board is silent again like it has been in the past that means a stadium is a long, long ways away if ever.

Then the next most-important date becomes Sept. 5 and that will not have anything to do with a new stadium.

With a Caveat, I’ll pick up the tab on the new stadium

Hopefully, the new Temple Stadium doesn't have a track around it like this one does. I want the fans right on top of the action.

Hopefully, the new Temple Stadium doesn’t have a track around it like this one does. I want the fans right on top of the action.

We’ve heard this all before about this time two years ago.

“It’s a done deal.”

Back then, the Temple football recruits and their parents (fathers, mostly) were saying that Temple to the Big East was a done deal. Almost one month to the day after signing day 2012, Temple inked a pact to join the Big East for all sports.

The original Temple Stadium at Pickering and Cheltenham Aves.

The original Temple Stadium at Pickering and Cheltenham Aves.

That lasted one year for football, while the basketball team never got to play in the Big East.

Now many of the new recruits and their parents (again, fathers mostly) are saying (privately) that they have been told a new stadium is a done deal. I will give Matt Rhule a little more credit than Steve Addazio here. He’s keeping a lid on Social Media and none of the recruits are saying publicly that they’ve been told a new stadium is a done deal. We’ve heard, though, that is what they’ve been told.

Temple will have a new football stadium and it will be sooner as well as later.

I don’t know if it’s true but, if I were a betting man, I’d bet there’s at least a 60 percent chance the stadium gets done before the Lincoln Financial Field contract expires before the start of the 2018 season.

Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie wants the Owls out and he basically wants to use a $521 million stadium for 10 games a season in addition to a concert or a soccer game or two. Since $60 million of that was state money, that doesn’t seem fair to Temple but that’s a story for another day.

The Geasey and old track field complex, rumored site for Temple Stadium

The Geasey and old track field complex, rumored site for Temple Stadium

I like playing at Lincoln Financial Field. I think there are significant advantages of playing at a $521 million palace located a 10-minute train ride from the main campus, with dedicated stops at each end. In fact, the university might consider all the alternatives and come to the conclusion that the ransom Lurie is demanding is more cost-effective than sinking $300 million into an on-campus facility likely to be delayed by legal challenges.


I like playing at Lincoln Financial Field.
I think there are significant advantages
to playing at a $521 million palace located
a 10-minute train ride from the main campus,
with dedicated stops at each end. In fact,
the university might consider the alternatives
and come to the conclusion that the ransom
Lurie is demanding is more cost-effective
than sinking $300 million into an on-campus
facility likely to be delayed by legal challenges

All that said, a new on-campus stadium could better simply because the regional rail which has a stop by the Edberg-Olson Practice Facility does not go to South Philadelphia. Any time you can open up more public transportation options to get to a Temple football game you increase the likelihood of a bigger crowd. The rumors are that the stadium will go on the present site of Geasey Field also using the former adjacent track “stadium” at 15th and Montgomery. When I went to Temple, Geasey’s claim to fame was that it was the “largest astroturf field in the World.” Temple had a stadium once–located eight miles away from the campus in Mt. Airy–and I always wondered why it was so far away. I asked one of our distinguished alums about that recently and he said the plan was to move the whole campus up there to Wyncote/Oreland/Erdenheim, lock stock and barrel, but they could not grab  sufficient land for the deal and those plans were scraped. Unfortunately, they had the stadium built before finding that out.

Not all that worried about tailgating since the games are on Saturdays when you can close off some student lots used for weekday classes just for those purposes.

New Tulane Stadium will open this fall.

New Tulane Stadium will open this fall.

I am worried about where the funding for this will come from. I don’t think the state or city or feds will contribute one dime, so it will have to come from Temple fans. Knowing Temple fans like I do, it won’t take them long to raise the money.

Unless you consider 346 years long.

I’ll tell you what: I’ll pick up the tab. Powerball on Wednesday night is $400 million. If I win, I’ll keep a measly $100 million and donate the balance to the stadium.  If 21-22-28-39-58 (06) pop up and nobody else uses those numbers, I will send Temple University a check the day after the presentation ceremony in Harrisburg. The university can consider this post a promissory note. All I want is for them to name it Temple Stadium in perpetuity, without any future sale of naming rights.

Done deal.