Thoughts on a Stadium on Temple’s Campus

Much like what we had guessed when the university tore down some disused and decrepit former student housing over the summer, Temple is indeed seriously considering a new football stadium in the northwestern section of campus. The school's formal announcement of their plan came several weeks ago during the runup to the heavily-hyped (and ultimately unsuccessful) game against Notre Dame — one that resulted in unheard-of national exposure — perhaps in an effort to take advantage of this year’s excitement for fundraising purposes. But as we've now taken some time to digest the thought of a new stadium on North Broad Street, what to think of the idea?

Proposed stadium location. Image from Philly.com

To look at the negative side first, let's agree that stadiums aren’t great neighbors. They’re crowded and loud when there’s a game happening, and deader than the zombie apocalypse when there isn’t. They’re vast and unrelenting facades, even when they're well done. Walk by Franklin Field lately? That’s the same presence a Temple stadium would cast onto two blocks of Norris Street and half a block of North Broad Street. Worst of all, the utility of such a building would, by definition, be quite low. Even if used for concerts, high school sports, and academic purposes, as suggested in an Inquirer story, the building would be empty much more often than it would be full. Does Temple's campus need another hulking arena sitting quiet most of the time as a bookend to the Liacouras Center?

And then there's the financial side. Indications are that Temple intends to finance this $100M project through fundraising and not tuition dollars. But Temple is a public university. If fundraising falls short or in the case of cost overruns, could taxpayers end up holding the bag?

Current view of the site

On the other hand, have you ever attended a Temple football game? Lincoln Financial Field, more commonly known as the home of the Eagles, seats nearly 70,000 people. Even sometimes during this amazing season, games have attracted only half that number. And it's really tough to generate an electric stadium atmosphere in a half empty stadium. Also, sharing stadiums between pro and college teams doesn't always work out so well. Just ask Pitt or Miami fans. And there are indications that Temple and the Eagles might not play nicely together in the future.

In theory, Temple would be able to fill an on-campus stadium for every game. With a stadium, a proper athletic center, and a new practice field, maybe Temple would start attracting more top-flight recruits. Perhaps this would be a major step in building a national powerhouse football program which in turn could pump up future fundraising and boost school spirit to unprecedented levels.

In addition, a college football stadium can fit in a relatively small space. Tulane’s Yulman Stadium is only the size of a city block. The space being proposed at Temple is more than adequate for a 35,000 seat stadium and a new athletics complex. And if it's designed well, it could be expanded should demand require.

Yulman Stadium. Looks pretty big from here.

In the end, it’s Temple’s land. They’ve got an arena down the street already, and this part of town is no stranger to stadiums. If Temple presents a thoughtful design, offers a plan to open the stadium to the community as much as possible, and doesn’t ask for public subsidies, we could get behind the concept despite the downsides. We'd rather see them raising money to build academic buildings instead of athletic facilities, but understand that some donors are just more excited about football than they are about physics.