TEMPLE CAMPUS FOOTBALL STADIUM IS A GO, AND HERE’S THE LETTER TO PROVE IT!
By Sally Fahey
Temple is building a new football stadium on its North Philly campus, and the neighbors are up in arms.
So Temple president Richard Englert has penned this letter to assuage their fears about traffic, congestion and other issues:
To our North Philadelphia neighbors:
A few weeks ago, many of you received information about Temple’s proposal to the Philadelphia Planning Commission as a step in evaluating the potential for and future of a multipurpose facility, including a retail complex and a stadium.
We at Temple University are so proud that we have been part of North Philadelphia for over 130 years. As someone who has been at Temple for more than 40 years, I have gotten to know many long-term neighbors personally. I, along with so many other Temple administrators, faculty, and students, care about you. We care about the quality of the schools your children attend and whether they have a safe place to play. That’s why we are engaged in a variety of activities throughout the community from volunteering at Duckrey Elementary School to providing scholarships for neighborhood residents. This same commitment is present in our latest initiative. We truly believe the multipurpose facility will be valuable to the university and the community.
For nearly two years, we have been talking with local residents, business and civic leaders, Temple employees who live in the community and many others to hear your concerns and your hopes for the future. People have been open and honest. I want to thank everyone for your candor, even when your comments were critical.
Those conversations have been enormously useful as we consider how to move forward.
We have started to take measures to address your concerns. Here is an update on the most frequently expressed questions.
- The university will purchase or somehow acquire homes to build the complex. That is simply not true. The university will not acquire homes and no one will be “forced out.” The stadium and retail complex will be built on existing property owned by Temple, and we believe there is enough parking and public transportation access to accommodate game day activities.
- Will there be a forum for neighbors to receive information and voice their opinions? A public town hall will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6 in Mitten Hall, 1913 North Broad Street to discuss the proposed on-campus multipurpose facility, including a stadium and retail complex. This informational meeting is open to members of the community, students, faculty and alumni.
- The growth of students in the North Central Philadelphia area means an increase in trash. Residents and students both have raised concerns about how the extra trash piles up. It’s clear that a once-a-week garbage pickup is not enough. We have been actively working with the city to fund a second garbage pickup for the neighborhood around campus. We are hopeful that we will be able to announce an additional trash pickup in the near future. We are also planning other steps to reduce the overall volume of trash generated by our students living in the area.
- Residents worry that the proposed stadium would overwhelm the adjacent neighborhood. Many are surprised to learn that the proposed stadium will only be about half the size of Lincoln Financial Field. We have instructed our architect to make this facility harmonize with the nature of a residential community as much as possible. As a result, the stadium’s playing surface level will actually be sunk 25 feet below ground level. In this way, the stadium height at Norris Street will be the same as that of the rooflines of the rowhomes on Norris Street. The stadium footprint will not affect the Amos Playground. Notably, Temple plans to improve the playground facilities.
- Traffic is a concern for many. Since one block of 15th Street would need to be closed, there would have to be changes to local traffic patterns. We are committed to working with the city and local residents to find the best possible alternatives for everyday use, and for game day use as well.
- There are also questions about parking, especially on game days. A stadium of 30,000 to 35,000 seats will draw to campus roughly the same number of people who come here to work and learn every day. The same combination of Regional Rail, Broad Street Line and SEPTA bus lines can accommodate game day traffic. Temple has also identified more than 32,000 parking spaces in lots with easy access to Main Campus via a short walk or public transit, and is working to negotiate contracts with owners of these lots to help absorb parking needs.
- Tailgating concerns have been raised by those who have concerns about current student misbehavior being amplified on game days. We recognize that some student behavior, particularly on weekends, has been disruptive and damaging to the university’s relationship with its neighbors. The disappointing behavior of some students is not representative of the majority of Temple’s student body. We continue to work diligently to address this problem. In addition, we have studied how other urban universities use their campus as the center for tailgating and realize that no large parking lot is needed. Temple will focus celebration activities on its Main Campus—in its buildings and on campus walks and green spaces. We are also committed to using Temple police to patrol the neighborhood to prevent tailgating and disruptive parties off campus.
- One area that frequently comes up in the conversations was job preparation and help in finding employment. Temple has a number of services that are available to neighbors, including working on resumes, building interview skills and helping to identify local employers. But we have come to realize those services aren’t always easy to access. We are now looking at a way to give those initiatives a higher profile and make them easier to use. We should have an announcement about this effort later this spring. In addition, during construction of the multipurpose facility and thereafter, we will work to ensure that North Philadelphians are well represented in the jobs that would be generated by construction, facility and retail activities.
I look forward to sharing more about this project, and to seeing you and your families at Temple sporting events this spring and in the future. In the meantime, if you have a comment, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard M. Englert