Group wants to stop stadium plans at Temple

October 13, 2017 GMT

A small group of residents and students known as the Stadium Stompers, along with others, rallied earlier this week to protest the possibility of a future football stadium on Temple University’s campus.

Nothing has been decided regarding an approximate 35,000 seat (about half the size of Lincoln Financial Field), $130 million stadium, that was introduced under the leadership of the school’s former President Neil D. Theobald.

The school rents Lincoln Financial Field to play its football games and has stated the cost for building its own would be funded through private donations and bonds.

However, some argue a sports complex would create more problems to a neighborhood already dealing with gentrification and poverty.

“Why would we build something in the area of an already improvised area?,” said Jacqueline Wiggens, a 67-year-old resident of North Philadelphia. “People here are experiencing a real neglect that has been here forever.”

Kenneth Johnson doesn’t begrudge Temple for wanting its own stadium, he just doesn’t want it built at the proposed site where it would encompass Broad Street on the east, Norris Street on the north, 16th Street on the west and Montgomery Street on the south.

“What Temple wants to do will have a negative impact on the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s like putting a whale inside of a goldfish bowl.”

Tuesday’s protest was held simultaneously during the same time Temple’s Board of Trustees met at 3:30 p.m. The facility was not on the agenda.

“Temple continues its careful efforts to consider the future of a multipurpose facility,” said Brandon Lausch, director of strategic marketing and communications at Temple. “Contrary to recently published reports about the status of the project, no final decision has been made on this issue. That decision will be made based on what is best for the university and the North Philadelphia community.”

Lausch said Temple President Richard M. Englert met with leaders of the group this summer to hear their concerns.

In March 2016, Temple announced it hired African-American owned and managed architecture firm Moody Nolan to lead the design of the multipurpose facility and conduct a feasibility study, though plans have not moved forward.

When Johnson was asked if he thought the demonstrations were helping, he said, “I think it’s like chipping away at the Rock of Gibraltar, but with each chip we take out, the rock weighs less and less. We’re trying not to make this happen.”