Temple University, behind a determined president Neil D. Theobald, is pushing for a 35,000-seat on-campus football stadium as the Owls seek the big time.
Mixed feelings. They exist within. Tangled interminably.
Just no other way to put it. With the one alma mater, where four years of matriculation occurred and a lifetime of passionate support has followed, especially in regards to the school’s long-suffering and often-ridiculed football program, all set to forge ahead with plans for an on-campus stadium, you’d think yours truly would be rejoicing in the streets, leading the cheers.
Perhaps even spear-heading a counter-protest march along Broad to offset the mostly ill-formed, emotionally-fueled masses making the most noise against such an endeavor.
Oh, Temple University, how you test us all …
Almost makes you wonder if all that fun last fall was worth it.
Just kidding …
The reality, though, is that what went on under head coach Matt Rhule’s domain from September into December made the possibility of a facility actually being built something more than a pie-in-the-sky suggestion easily drowned out by the ensuing laughter.
By setting a program record for wins in a regular season, by beating Penn State for the first time in 74 years, by entering the national polls for the first time in 36 years, by capturing the country’s attention for close to a week before hosting Notre Dame AND then giving a prime-time performance to justify that attention, the Owls took stadium talks previously residing in hushed back rooms and thrust them out into the open.
For all to see … and many to bitch about.
Not for nothing, but if still relatively new school president Neil D. Theobald had expected acceptance, never mind support, by a vast majority, it’d be safe to say he needs a few more years in town to get the true pulse of Philadelphia, the North Philly neighborhood in which the university is located and, frankly, Temple’s student body.
This is NOT a place that embraces change, especially an astronomically costly one that could uproot families and alter communities and particularly one mainly being brought about for an entity that has been largely viewed within the confines stretching from indifference to disdain. Ironically, the fact Temple is the sole reason for culture and some livable space existing in its neighborhood is immaterial.
Put it this way, Temple ain’t gonna be drawing autumn Saturday crowds to merit a 35,000-seat facility in North Philly for a long, long time – and that’s even if the 2015 season immediately becomes the norm instead of the exception.
But if it ever hopes to become “big time” in the sport, and, in fact, college athletics in general, an on-campus stadium is a must. Most sports fans in Philly cannot grasp that, pointing at Lincoln Financial Field, where Temple essentially rents time and space from the Eagles, is a nice and relatively new venue.
Yo, wake up. That situation sucks.
Sorry, but it’s essentially a neutral site at best for the Owls … and a road game at worst. Aside from USC and UCLA relegated to such setups in the urban wasteland of Los Angeles, you’re not going to find a successful major college grid program that doesn’t play on its own grounds, and by successful, we mean in drawing good crowds in addition to winning.
Penn State and Notre Dame ain’t coming to South Philly every year.
Unfortunately, the dilemma remains over whether green-lighting an on-campus stadium is the way to go. Even for someone who would love to see it.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
BY THE NUMBERS
While tensions run high in regards to Temple University seeking to build an on-campus football stadium, here are some digits to consider:
Amount of dollars Temple president Neil D. Theobald has estimated the school loses each time it plays a home game at Lincoln Financial Field
Combined attendance for the Owls’ biggest games at the Linc in 2015, against Penn State and Notre Dame
Combined attendance for the Owls’ other four home games at the Linc in 2015, against American Athletic Conference rivals Tulane, Central Florida, Memphis and Connecticut
Current seating capacity for the Linc
Lowest attendance for any Temple game in 2015, the regular-season finale against Connecticut with the AAC East crown and berth in the inaugural AAC title game on the line
Largest attendance for any Temple game at the Linc since 2003 against an opponent other than Penn State or Notre Dame (Rutgers, 2013)
Sellouts for Temple at the Linc in 2015 (Penn State and Notre Dame)
Sellouts for Temple at the Linc prior to 2015 (Penn State, 2007)