Temple’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve funding for the initial design of a football stadium on Temple’s main campus. The Board made the decision following roughly 45 minutes of emotional appeals by members of the community, demanding the plans for the proposed arena be halted. The university released a statement including specifications the board agreed upon during their meeting, including;
- Temple will spend no more than $1 million to pursue initial designs and studies to determine how the site can best be used for the complex.
- The university collaborate with community members and government officials to address local residents’ concerns, such as parking, trash and noise.
- The total budget for the football stadium not exceed $130 million.
- The overall financing plan for the project have a $50 million fundraising goal.
- Cost reductions and revenue enhancements from a stadium result in net savings of about $3 million annually through 2024, compared to the most recent lease extension terms proposed to use Lincoln Financial Field, where the Owls currently play football.
- The proposed stadium have a capacity of approximately 35,000 seats—about half the size of Lincoln Financial Field.
- All capital expenditures, financing and naming opportunities related to the project move through ordinary board approval processes.
- Funds for the project will come from private donations and bonds, the latter supported by money that would otherwise be paid to rent Lincoln Financial Field.
- Student tuition will not be used.
Temple Police officers and Allied Barton security guards blocked off the entrance to Sullivan Hall, allowing six members of community into the meeting under the condition that they would not be disruptive. Police did not allow signs inside of the meeting.
While briefing trustees and those in attendance, Temple University president Neil Theobald gave details about the planned stadium. The stadium is expected to cost $126 million, up from the initial $110 million estimate.
Theobald announced that an on campus football field would save the university $21 million over its first 7 years. According to the approved plan proposed yesterday, funding for the projects will come from private donors. Student tuition will not be used to pay for the stadium.
During the meeting, Theobald restated that the entire stadium would be built on Temple property, and that no new property would be purchased in the building of the arena.
One of the goals of the proposed arena is to open the stadium up for other uses, such as local high school’s football programs. According to Theobald, the goal is “to use this stadium every day if we can.”
Much of the discussion inside of the board of trustees revolved around the topic of the new stadium and the impact that it would have on the local community. The six members were allowed to air their grievances, pleading to the board of trustees that the stadium plans come to a stop.
Many of the community members inside of the meeting spoke about how they feel as though they’ve been left out of most of the decision making over the stadium.
“We just want to be given the same opportunity to grow” said Tyrone Reed, a North Philadelphia native. “The community is never a part of these decisions.”
Students and community members gathered outside of Sullivan Hall to vocalize their disapproval. Protestor chants could be heard inside of the meeting.
During the meeting, Temple Student Government President Ryan Rinaldi stated that “Many of the students he had been in contact with were in support of the stadium”. While leaving, Rinaldi was heckled by protestors outside of Sullivan Hall.
Protesters were also yelling at police officers, chanting “Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” No arrests were made.
The university will start to move forward with the development of preliminary designs, which may take a few months. Temple hopes to begin construction in 2017.