Why July 14 is the Most Important Date in Temple Sports History

If recent Temple hires in key positions are any clue, the stadium going up at 15th and Norris should look something like this.

If recent Temple hires in key positions are any clue, the stadium going up at 15th and Norris should look something like this.

Usually the middle of July is a dead period in sports as baseball is in the middle of an all-star break, NFL training camp has not started and the NBA, NHL and college football are a couple months away.

For Temple University, though, July 14th might be the most important day in its sports history. That’s because the school’s Board of Trustees will hold a rare meeting amid rumors that there could be talk of an on-campus stadium on the agenda.


Even if a stadium is not on the docket that could be more telling than if it is because the school’s BOT let a May meeting, a March meeting and a December meeting come and go with no discussion of a stadium. If it is not on this agenda, there likely will be no stadium because the next meeting after this one is in October and the school’s 15-year lease with the Philadelphia Eagles to rent Lincoln Financial Field expires at the end of the 2017 season.

Temple fans on sports message boards seem obsessed with the topic as seemingly innocuous discussion threads get turned into stadium ones at the drop of a hat. When it comes to the people who really matter, the BOT, the topic hasn’t even moved the needle. There were meetings on December 9th, March 11th and May 12th and not a word on the stadium at any of them. That could all change on Tuesday. Or not.

Since the last meeting on May 12, former Indiana University chief bean counter (CFO), Neil Theobald, the current Temple president, kicked a former Indiana U. aide, Kevin Clark, upstairs from AD to No. 2 in command (COO). Then he hired a former Indiana football player, Dr. Pat Kraft, as AD. Yet another former Indiana guy was brought in to raise money for athletics.

If that means a stadium that looks like Indiana’s is about to go up at Broad and Norris, we should know soon.

Or not.

The next meeting after this one does not come until Oct. 13th. By then, any reasonable person could see that there will not be enough time to get shovels into the ground and a stadium completed by the opening day of the 2018 season. Even if it is discussed on Tuesday and approved (highly doubtful), there will be a mad dash to get the stadium done. So if a stadium at Temple is just an unfounded rumor, fans should know by Wednesday. No discussion probably means no stadium, at least not for a decade down the road.

The question of where Temple will play in 2018 is an urgent one.  The logical answer is to extend the Lincoln Financial Field lease. That could be costly because the Eagles are asking for a 300 percent increase in Temple’s $1 million-per-year rent, but it is a price Temple must pay to remain a viable program and about 10 times less costly than building its own stadium.

The AAC, like the Big East before it, will demand that Temple have exclusive rights on Saturdays to a stadium and the only other stadium with a size that fits its needs would be 57,000-seat Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn has those rights so Franklin Field is not an option nor is the 18,000-seat PPL Park.

Temple’s only means toward keeping those rights is to stay where it is right now and build its own stadium and, if the Board is silent again like it has been in the past that means a stadium is a long, long ways away if ever.

Then the next most-important date becomes Sept. 5 and that will not have anything to do with a new stadium.


15 thoughts on “Why July 14 is the Most Important Date in Temple Sports History

  1. I hope it’s about a stadium, just so it shuts the douchebags on the message boards up.

  2. Don’t you think it is doubtful that even if they do decide to build a stadium, they could be finished before the lease on the Linc expires? I presume they have to get city approval for street closures and such, and I have heard nothing about them obtaining all the necessary permits. My guess is that they decided to wait until they see if the team starts to win, what the fan base looks like in terms of attendance, as well as the longer term financial situation of the AAC. I am pessimistic. The only hope is that the team wins big this season and that they get better attendance at the conference home games. Then maybe they could get a short term extension on the Linc at $3 million per year while they make a decision. I have been a fan of the Owls since their games at Temple stadium. I hope it all works out, but right now it certainly does not look like it will take place by 2018.

  3. At a low end cost of 100 million to build, Temple could rent the Linc for 30 years at the new rate. To be totally realistic about Temple’s fund raising strength 3 million per year is the smart thing to do. Not until they prove they can produce a sustained winning, bowl bound team should they get into anything like upwards of a 300 million debt. Sure they’ll raise some money and will maybe get enough attendance to make payments but without a winning program (and there’s no guarantees right now that will happen) it would be a foolish endeavor. If they can beat PSU and/or ND that would be a good start. I watched last seasons PSU/Maryland rerun on the Big-10 channel last night. If Temple can put together a game like Maryland did they might win this years contest. But again, Temple’s football history, everything from coaching to fan support/fund raising to the BOT’s decision making, doesn’t bode well for overall sustained success and neither does a 300 million dollar stadium investment. They should keep playing at the Linc for now, especially since you said it really helps with recruiting. Sorry, but that’s the way I see it.

  4. Mike, assuming the BOT decides to stay at the Linc at the increased costs where do you think those funds will come from? It’d be a steep climb in rent though like you said well short of a new broad street stadium. I just wonder if they think donors will cover it or us the fans. Ticket prices went up this year (on season ticket holders at least) and I cannot imagine what they would charge to cover the Linc contracts year to year. Thoughts on the funding?

    • Prices of tickets were up because of the guarantees PSU and ND get. They’ll be back down next year.

    • I have to believe when they factor in the Phila. unions and the corrupt City Council and the greasy (field) palms of “the community” they will come to the conclusion that it makes more sense to pay $3 million than $300 million (and I don’t believe that $100 million estimate for a second). Now I think Phil is ultimately right. They are waiting to see if the Owls have a breakout (8 wins or better) season before making any decision on the future of football. If it’s another mediocre six, they might just cut their losses like they did with baseball and softball.

  5. What’s the verdict?

  6. The 2 really big issues right now seem to be the stadium and whether the football program will survive. John, I noticed that you really got slammed by other commenters in Philly.com sports the other day because you argue about whether the program is on the ropes. Even the facts you presented were questioned. I think you’re just being realistic. But as far as whether the program survives, I think that’s a matter of opinion and speculation (unless you know people and decisions behind the scenes that others don’t know about – like, is there really talk about possibly dropping football at Temple?). If not, my feelings, like I’ve stated before, are that the school, fans and BOT are so used to having a half-assed program that they’ll just keep on plodding along in mediocrity and less. If they happen to have some good seasons here and there we all get excited – but at Temple that’s all it takes to keep the program going. I will say though, that maybe these new financial costs that have occurred that force all programs to spend more just to try to keep up, will be a factor for lower level programs having to make decisions whether to maintain there football teams. And the prospect of a 300 million dollar stadium just seems outrageously expensive – how in the world could Temple make that happen? Have they done a comprehensive feasibility study? For a project of this magnitude it’s essential. Hell, we’ve been doing it on this blog ourselves! If the BOT hasn’t, it either means they’re crazy (if they’re really considering it) or they’re not considering it to begin with. This is awfully long,but it’s fun to speculate about things you really like.

    • John I agree and would add that college football as we all know has become a never ending arms race. I think we plodded along for years because the cost was cheap. It isn’t anymore. Especially with a stadium up for discussion. Winning is really the only way forward in any scenario. This season is critical in that respect. Gotta have a .500+ season minimum in my opinion.

    • If you are looking for idiots philly.com is the place to go. The idiots rather attack than refute what is said. I haven’t heard anything official and have simply looked at the facts. With the cost of mere survival rising every year, the lack of sustained support both financially and in terms of attendance, the failure to succeed on the field, and general apathy from the students I believe that the future is at risk. The place to play issue just exacerbates the situation as does the failure to schedule attractive games. One would have to be blind not to worry.

  7. Pingback: Offseason Q&A: Temple | Inside the Irish

  8. Well put John. Now I’m worrying! Ben’s comment about the “never ending arms race” and that costs used to be reasonable enough to keep the program afloat, really has become the key factor, hasn’t it? Makes building a new stadium a ridiculous dream. Even the tripled Linc rental fee puts pressure on, but at least is possible. Just to keep up Temple has to start winning and hopefully the attendance will increase enough to make ends meet. Dropping football would be even more embarrassing than the poor success has been. But really, who else would care? Millions have already been invested. Good money after bad? Ah, hell…….back to wait and see.

    • If Lurie does triple the rent, the administration likely will just triple the price of the tickets. They still would be cheaper than most D-1 schools charge. I think the same small number of loyal fans who have bought tickets for the last twenty or thirty years will take the hit and buy the tickets. The problem is that the B of T may get scared by the rent amount and pull the plug. No one on that Board is known for his or her courage.

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