A new construction project at the Edberg-Olson football facility is raising questions of budget apportioning within the athletic department at Temple University.
Chodoff Field, which is used for football and men’s and women’s soccer practices, is being resurfaced.
The field, which is over ten years old, is in such bad condition that the teams avoided using the south side where the surface is uneven.
“A couple years ago, we had a very bad storm and it actually lifted portions of the turf up and folded the cup system under and broke quite a few of them,” said Director of Operational Standards and Permitting Tom McCreesh.
The project is budgeted between two and three million dollars, according to the Athletic Department Communications.
“It’s not about Temple affording to do it, it’s Temple has to do this,” said Senior Associate AD for Communications Larry Dougherty. “I know for a fact that we would never put our student athletes in danger or in a safety issue.”
This comes as a part of a push from the University to make sure all Temple teams have access to state of the art facilities. Recent projects have included the transformation of the Pavilion into an indoor football facility, the renovation of Pearson-McGonigle Hall and the renovation of Edberg-Olson.
“This is the time to do it and it’s something that has been budgeted for over a year,” said Dougherty.
While replacing the turf has been in talk for over a year, the project was not pitched until early fall. It was approved over the holiday break in December and the new field is currently under construction.
Facility issues were listed as a reason that administration decided to make program cuts within the athletic department back in December.
The University specifically decided to cut men’s crew and women’s rowing because the teams did not have access to a facility suitable for a Divion I program. The choice to reinstate the program came after a donation from the City of Philadelphia and the Lenfest foundation to build the teams a new boathouse, worth $5.5 million.
Among the programs that remain cut is men’s gymnastics. One of the issues cited for gymnastics is that the men’s and women’s teams share a practice facility. Freshman gymnast Jakob Welsh said he’s confused by the University’s decision to resurface the football field
“I just feel confused that they will pour money into a sport…while they can’t save a sport that has one of the highest GPA for the past three years and that [can] self fund” said Welsh.
While it is true that the men’s gymnastics team has repeatedly fundraised their entire budget of $60 thousand, there still exists a deficit in the athletic department of $7 million. This deficit is mainly driven by facilities, including $1.6 million to rent Lincoln Financial Field each year to host home football games.
Looking from an individual standpoint, however, the football team breaks even on their $13 million budget, according to the US Department of Education.
McCreesh said that he believes that a new football field with the newest turf technology will aid in recruiting for football, furthering the program the future.
For now, however, the team will be housed by six different facilities for spring practices including Geasey Field, the Pavilion, Camden High School’s football field at Farnham Park. The annual Cherry and White game will be played at Cardinal O’Hara High School on April 26th.
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