The Chinatown Syndrome


“Proposed Stadium Site” should be renamed “The Promised Land.”

When I hear the plans surrounding the proposed stadium at Broad and Norris, all I can think of are the words of the great Martin Luther King Jr.

“I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”

If this thing ever gets built,  I can pretty much say I will not get there with you and, while you never know about these things, I don’t plan going anywhere for the next 20 years.

You can blame it all on Chinatown.



The city of Philadelphia had its heart set on a center city baseball stadium at 12th and Callowhill and Chinatown not only held up the project, but tabled it. That stadium later became Citizens Bank Park. Pittsburgh got the stadium with the great center city view, PNB Park, while Phillies fans get a similar view of the skyline only now through binoculars.

I have no doubt Temple’s administration is committed to building this. I do have serious doubts that the Indiana imports running Temple know what they are up against. Once the unions, city council and the community put up their dukes, I don’t think they have the stomach for this fight. What gets built easily in Bloomington, is built in Philadelphia only after extreme extortion–all legal, of course.

Philadelphia is the ultimate Provincial town—the only place where “not in my neighborhood” means not in any neighborhood. Ever wonder why every stadium is built in South Philadelphia? The reason is that there is an artificial barrier between the South Philadelphia neighborhood and the stadium called I-76. No such barrier exists in Center City or North Philadelphia.


Knowing Philadelphia as I do, the so-called community will hold up this project just like it held up the Liacouras Center project. It should have taken no longer than two years to build the LC—then called The Apollo of Temple—but it was held up for a dozen years by the two Mayors, mostly John Street, the City Council, and the community.

Temple has a recent history of backing down from blowback from “the community” and the example that comes to mind is ads in the Temple subway stop. All the ads said “Temple” and, when the community demanded the ads be taken down, the university relented and took the signs down. They have been since replaced with “Draft Kings” ads. So far, no demonstrations demanding the Draft Kings ads be taken down. Don’t expect any.

The community’s disdain for Temple runs deep, and the blowback on this stadium will make an Oklahoma F5 Tornado look like a gentle breeze. Even the folks in Chinatown figure to be impressed.

That’s why I won’t get to this mountaintop with you. Maybe only the very youngest of our readers ever will.


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20 thoughts on “The Chinatown Syndrome

  1. I’ve been saying all along that I want to see these so-called neighbors. Whoever shows up has to be thoroughly vetted to make sure they actually live in the neighborhood, which, when I checked recently, is populated mostly by students. Also the administration has to start showing that a game will gross in excess of 1 mil a game in ticket sales, concessions, and parking, which I think will more than cover the cost of the stadium debt. Temple also has to somehow energize its alums to pepper Jim Donkey, I mean Kenney and City Council to approve the stadium which will benefit the school and the neighborhood. Finally, even if there are neighbors I think that the minor inconvenience a game will cause six to ten times a year is not a reason to kill the project when nearly forty thousand people descend on the campus every school day.

    • Jim Donkey punting to the neighbors essentially killed it. Giving the neighbors final say (which is what he did by saying, “Temple has to resolve its issues with the neighbors first”) is akin to Donkey showing up at Holmesburg and saying,he’s giving the inmates the vote on weekend passes. Of course, you know the community is going to veto this. Temple should be able to build anything Temple wants on Temple land. If this requires one Norris Street house to be knocked down, then that’s another story but not a single house will be harmed in the completion of this project.

      • BLUF – Bottom line Up Front – this will not happen without a change in strategic direction and actions from the BOT…

        i got the impression last week that Theobald is extremely naive …., he said Temple will launch a strategic communications plan next month. But he is betting logic will prevail which it never does in politics.

        My question to him was, “what does the North Philadelphia community want?” no answer, and i could not discern if he didn’t want to disclose or if he didn’t really know.,

        more troubling in the short term was the eagles reaction to the meeting with the new mayor.., they are really putting the screws to Temple and charging a premium for additional costs not covered in the current agreement.., essentially they are charging Temple under a cost plus type contract for security, waste removal, etc.., meaning that in addition to whatever it costs the eagles they charge a 20% mark-up in fees…, plus they are taking 100% of parking and concession sales.., i’ll never be an eagles fan again.

        at one time i really believed this would happen but the BOT is not taking an active role.., they are watching Theobald stumble and eventually fall.., shocking considering all the Temple guys on the BOT and that the BOT has a Comcast member…, really embarrassing and in stark contrast to the approach taken by the University of Houston’s Board of Regents..,

        my personal view is the BOT should provide the resources and vision for academics and athletics.., the TU president and AD should run the programs and focus on the operations at the tactical level.., this shouldn’t be Theobald’s fight, this should be a BOT led initiative.., the BOT should make a commitment and take the lead, let Theobald and the AD run the programs with the resources they are provided…,

        we are f%*ked again, the Temple curse lives on

  2. all my friends who came back from boca said they talked to hire ups and this is not a bluff to get LFF to lower rent, that the uni is committed to doing this. If this were Morgan Hall or Alter Hall or the E-O, no problem. This is a stadium and this is the way for a lady with a crappy house on Norris Street with Green Paint splashed all over it to become a millionaire. When the uni says no to her and her neighbors’ extortion demands, we will have reached an impasse and this project will be tabled just like the Chinatown one was.

  3. wish North Philly was a smart as So Philly.., the stadium means jobs on the front end and jobs throughout the life of the stadium.., who do you think will be building and running the stadium after it is built?

    re-zone a few of the surrounding blocks for commercial use, restaurants, taverns, retail, etc.., this is not rocket science but a win-win for all the stakeholders.., having Theobald run point for this project is not a good idea, he does not have the political savvy or possess the power of persuasion…, bet you a pretzel a ground breaking ceremony does not happen by 2020?

    • The thing is that there were lots of complaints in South Philly and Packer Park but they were ignored. As far as parking goes, establish resident stickers as they do in other parts of the City. This is all philly politics as usual where the common good is ignored in favor of personal gain.

    • While losing these bowl games is problematical, the fact is that the conference won when it counted-during the season. Trying to get kids motivated after a season is tough especially if they lost a championship game. Moreover, the kids lose focus because of the change of scenery and because they have been going for five months straight.. The change of weather also affects the northern teams as exemplified by the Big Ten’s record in Rose Bowls. The perception is bad I admit, but can’t denigrate the conference on the basis of bowl games. If that were the case, the Big Ten would be out of business given its bowl record in the 2000s

      • Toledo had no problems getting motivated for the games…, they are an experienced bowl team, 5 out of the last six years, and it showed.., i chalk this up to an inexperienced Temple staff to include the AD’s office.., someone should have reminded MR that you play to win the game and what was at stake – Lambert Trophy, Top 25 rankings, etc, etc…, everyone down there was in a party mode and just happy to be there in stark comparison to Toledo.., even the Toledo pre-game alumni tent was serious.., it was a business convention atmosphere over there compared to the Temple party tent….,

        all year MR was preaching ‘this team will go to a bow game’…, he should have said “this team will win a bowl game”…., HUGE difference between “going” vs “winning”

        IMHO MR was entirely to comfortable with finishing the season 3-4, and losing the last two by being out-coached and out-played…,

  4. Temple needs a plan B: Camden Waterfront.

    • Campbell Field only seats 6500. It would entail building an entirely new stadium. The same problem arises regarding student attendance. They don’t go to the Linc and are less likely to go to Camden.

      • I think he was kidding. At least I hope so. The whole purpose of an on-campus stadium is putting it on campus. If it’s not going to be on campus, might as well extend the Linc lease until 2050.

      • I wasn’t kidding because it is a great location. Lew Katz was from Camden. I’d love to see the nophilly locals pound sand down their rat holes.

      • our students won’t go to camden. hell, our alumni won’t. it’s worse than detroit.

    • Heard from a lot of students at the games this year saying they would attend more if it was closer to their dorms/campus “like basketball, it’s so close by and easy to get to”.

  5. BLUF: Temple needs leverage.

    The view from Camden is phenomenal, and nobody ever gets mugged.

    Sorry Brianna and Kaylee, no stadium at the end of a sliding board outside your dorm. They’ll need to work that skirt to a stadium, which magically cures cosmopolitan hangovers. Camden is better than Ambler, Chester, or Luriesville.

  6. I have not lived in the Philadelphia area for almost 50 years. I don’t really have any basis to dispute your views. I just hope your pessimistic appraisals are wrong. .

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