Stadium: The End Game

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On the eve of the Toledo game, I wrote that the Owls were walking into an ambush and I did not have a good feeling about that outcome.

I have had a similar feeling in the pit of my stomach for a long time about the proposed new stadium. I kept hoping it was heartburn and it would go away, but now I am more convinced than ever it is not after hearing City Council President Darrell Clarke say this the other day: “I don’t know even five people who are in favor of it.” If he were really considering approving this, his comments at this point would open the door slightly for interpretation by saying things like “we’re going to review this” but the “I don’t know five people” comment is effectively slamming the door shut.

(He must be ignoring the hundreds of Temple students who voted in favor it it in the Temple News poll. Either that, or they don’t count as people in Clarke’s world.)

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Not counted among those five is Mayor Kenney,  who has been against it from the beginning, thinking that it was nothing more than a Temple ploy to bring down the rent. Temple President Neil D. Theobald debunked that notion while speaking to the student government by saying that the school is committed to building a new stadium for long-term reasons and despite any concessions it gets from the Eagles.

Kenney has also been adamant that this is Clarke’s baby and, if he doesn’t want it, Kenney is going to put the full weight of the city’s political machine against it. I’m particularly not buying the belief of many Temple people that the city wants a handout before they give the go-ahead. I don’t think this falls into the same category as the Liacouras Center. The city is really dead set against this.

I don’t see Temple having the stomach to rage against that machine. That’s too bad because I feel, if push comes to shove, the city would stand a good chance in a more friendly state supreme court if it decided to sue the city for the right to build the stadium. (The state hates the city anyway.) Temple can simply state it has as much right to build a stadium on its property as any other university building (citing no city opposition to Morgan Hall, the Library or the Student Activities Center). It can further point out that similar universities, like Penn State and Rutgers and Maryland have stadiums on their campus and that the city barring Temple from building puts the school at a competitive disadvantage.

The top three administrators at Temple are all Indiana Hoosiers, who could be so shocked by how city politics operates they decide to say bleep it, let’s continue to play at LFF. It all comes down if they decide this is worth the fight.

This is the same bad gut feeling I had before Toledo, and no amount of Alka-Seltzer or arguments to the contrary is going to make me think differently.

Monday: 2017 Mock Temple Draft

Wednesday: For Pete’s Sake

Friday: Spoiling Joe’s 50th

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27 thoughts on “Stadium: The End Game

  1. Not to mention any amount of pressure Lurie can apply downtown to keep his rental fee rolling in. But, whatever, Temple just needs to keep playing well and hopefully good things will happen. I have felt for a long time that with decent coaches Temple could achieve some level of success and we have seen that happen in the last 7-8 seasons (even with those 2 bad seasons). It’s been one of only a few good stretches in Temple football history and has signs of getting better and continuing. If it does, I’ll be satisfied. This sure beats all those years of embarrassment. But as the face of college football has changed a lot (including schedules Temple used to play – like the Bucknells) Temple needs to keep pace as best they can. So, new stadium or not, as you’ve said yourself Mike, the LINC is a good venue if it doesn’t happen.

    • If Temple was playing at Franklin Field, I would say a stadium is absolutely necessary; there are two sides to this argument, though. The optics of the Temple vs. Penn State and Temple vs. Notre Dame (and even Temple Tulane) crowds cannot be ignored. That’s a big-time Power 5 team hosting those games in a G5 conference. Is there really any other G5 team that can offer that kind of a big-time stadium other than Temple? (Unfortunately, because of the city’s opposition, this whole argument could be a moot point. If the Phillies–the Phillies, this is–were not able to convince Chinatown of the benefits of a stadium, Temple’s chances of convincing North Philly (and City Council) are really slim.

  2. Of course, if they say it’s either Franklin Field or a new stadium, I would advise to sue the city in Temple-friendly state appeals courts. (My lawyer friends tell me you would not believe the amount of Temple Law school grads who are state judges.)

  3. Very sorry to learn of the passing of Peter Liacouris. He was a man of vision who left an indelible imprint on Temples future. He was president during my undergrad years and was both highly visible and effective.

    Perhaps coincidentally they were also some pretty good football years under a young Bruce Arians. RIP.

    • Two great hires: JC and BA. Should have stuck with BA. Big backer of sports, though. Loved to go to practice and catch the made extra points and field goals.

      • Getting rid of BA may have been his single biggest mistake. Arians played national powerhouses tightly and one of my great memories of our football team was when we almost beat BYU right around the time they fell ass-backwards into a national title by beating a barely .500 Michigan team in addition to numerous close calls against PSU.

        Keeping JC was a great decision, not just because of the teams stellar performance but the guy was so larger then life and unpredictible the school got great national exposure. Whether JC was threatening to kill the other coach in a presser (and would college hoops really be any worse if callipari’s coaching career was killed in the cradle?), sending in the goons (I’m not even talking about when Rivas slugged a guy in the back on a nationally televised game), or railing against the injustices of prop-48 the guy was basically the original reality show.

        Rest in Peace. Ní Bheidh Mo Leithéid Arís Ann! Dr Pete could say.

  4. Mike, while it’s true that TU has built other buildings with no opposition, they still likely needed certain licenses and zoning variances to be built. Given that those buildings won’t draw anyone other than TU students already on campus, the load on city infrastructure is nil, unlike the stadium. I’m sure a stadium needs such variances as well, and without City support those variances simply won’t be granted. A wild card is the recent case against City councilman Johnson who lost a civil suit based on his denial of a variance wanted by a political opponent. That case calls into question the whole question of council-manic prerogative. In any event, any lawsuit would take a half decade at least to wind its way through the courts. If I were Temple I would cast my lot with the trade unions and have them use there influence to get this deal done.

    • Mike, is there any way your site can get an editing feature. i hate seeing errors in what I post. I usually type too fast and don’t take the time to proofread. It’s my fault but I’d like to be able to make corrections. Thanks.

      • I went to the comments administration and it looks like it doesn’t offer any edit function for comments. A flaw in wordpress that did not exist in blogspot, Sorry about that.

    • John you are correct this is big money and jobs for the trade unions. They will fully support the stadium and they have a lot of political clout.

  5. One more thing. What is it with Philadelphia? This town is the dumbest one I’ve ever seen. It’s so set in its ways that any time someone wants to step outside the box, regardless of how great the plan is, there’s a crescendo of “no.” Look how long it took to build higher than City Hall. The thought behind that was, Who does Philly think it is, New York?. Here’ it’s Who does TU think it is, Penn State?. Instead of saying, Why not?” the Negative Nellies immediately say “NO.” I can’t understand the push back. In a city with 60% of its population living in poverty, one would think that a project of this size and scope would be a no-brainer especially because the negatives are easy to surmount. Unbelievable.

  6. You can make corrections, I do it all the time. But you have to proof it to see the mistakes of course.
    About the stadium, maybe the BOT knows something about working with, through or around city hall than any of us know. Seems like they (Temple) really want to do it. And here I thought raising the money was the big problem.

  7. Don’t fall into the trap. This is the typical democratic pay to play scheme. In order for Temple to get it done, they have to kick back via jobs, community center etc. Clarke will relent but he will drive a hard bargain. That’s how it works in one party urban cities. The Temple people know this, it is not a zero sum game, all parties need to get something. The dopey social justice students are being used in the process.

    • a big red flag is the cap on stadium spending at $126 million. that gives you a bare-bones stadium (think Tulane) at Philly prices. It also is indicative of the BOT’s reluctance to get into an arms’ race with the city and the community for payola perks like community centers. If it came down to that push vs. that shove, I think Temple probably abandons the project.

  8. I wonder if Campbell Field on the Camden waterfront can be retrofitted for college football? Best view of the city is in Camden. Philadelphia will throw money at the Eagles and Phillies and throw bricks at Temple.

    • The whole idea of having our own stadium is to get the program closer to the students on campus to create a college environment in Philadelphia. The idea of moving it to another state is completely antithetical to this goal regardless of the views. Additionally, do you think the state of PA is going to kick in money to fund stadium renovations in New Jersey and the kids and alums are going to travel across a bridge with no significant public transport?

      Pro teams with heavy subsidies from the public and established fan bases can take this approach but we’ve got a fledgling program and need to entice new fans not try to get them to go to Camden. This may be the worst idea I’ve ever seen on this sight bad I’ve posted a few bad ones myself over the years.

  9. NY Giants and Jets play in NJ. Dallas plays in Arlington, Phoenix plays in Glendale. Washington plays in MD. Buffalo plays in Orchard Park. San Francisco plays in Santa Clara…If Philly is going to act like a third world country run by carpet merchants, then student body right end around!

    • I like the outside-the-box thinking (hey, the Sixers practice in Camden) but the whole idea of the stadium was to enhance the on-campus experience. If we are going to be off campus, I’d rather be at the Linc. When Peter J. Liacouras (RIP) threatened to move the campus from Philly to Ambler, he got the Apollo built. Unfortunately, we built so much stuff up in North Philly since the Apollo, we can’t bluff our way out of the city this time.

  10. If public opinion, say led by unions who want jobs changes the lean on the project, Kenney will change. The man evaluates every move or utterance he makes for political impact. Not many causes he won’t embrace to keep his political cred.

    And if the stadium is DOA or the project is put in a legal coma, maybe the Phils could be contacted for use of the Bank at a much better price. Sacrifice seats for the occasional big name opponent, maybe not host many early season games while the Phils are playing (and perhaps post-season in a few years), configuration not as conducive. But it has parking and conveniences for the fans.

    Arians firing by Dr. L was fortunate for the coach. As he pointed out in the NFL Network piece, the job was killing him because he had so much to oversee and at that point in his life was not comfortable delegating work so he could focus on head coach tasks. Definitely hurt the program that he went away. He could get the most out of the players, was attracting the players, getting attendance up, and taking advantage of the independent status that enabled him to “schedule up.” Everyone forgets he beat Wisconsin, Va Tech, Pitt, WVa during his time in cherry. Just didn’t get over the hump with the Nitts.

  11. The Boys Scouts sued the city and won, so that option should be on the table.

  12. Don’t know if a lawsuit would succeed unfortunately because the City would have a reasonable basis to deny the zoning and land variances necessary to build it. They could reasonably argue that it would be a safety hazard given that 15th street will be closed and also that it will have a detrimental impact on the neighborhood.
    Check out this Code section applicable to zoning variances: http://phillyzoning.com/when-does-the-zba-grant-a-variance/

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