It started the way all good deals start, with one guy having something the other guy wants.
In the case of Temple University and the Philadelphia Phillies, though, today’s announcement had the added caveat of two guys wanting something the other guy has and that’s what has led to a “memorandum of understanding” between the two organizations on a stadium deal.
The outline agreed to is simply this: When the Phillies are ready to leave Citizens Bank Park, it will be sold to Temple for the princely sum of $1. In return, Temple will give the Phillies what it has long sought—a plot of land to build a nearer midtown baseball stadium with a spectacular view of the Center City Skyline. Not having that view while Pittsburgh has had it all along has been a major bone of contention with the Phillies ownership. That plot of land is the former Geasey Field, which is now bounded on the North by Norris Street and on the South by Montgomery Avenue.
The time frame is open-ended, according to Phillies General Managing Partner Dave Montgomery. Temple will start to phase into CBP when the team offers open weekend dates to the football Owls in 2021. Only if there is a conflict will the Owls are moved to Franklin Field. Once the North Philly Baseball Stadium is built, the Owls will become sole operators of Citizens Bank Park.
“The discussions began when (Temple president) Dick (Englert) and I were at a function,” Montgomery said. “I said, ‘Dick, this thing with the community could go on for a hundred years. Why don’t we agree to do something now?’ Dick said he would talk to the Board of Trustees and here we are today.
“Look, we know that there are still hurdles. The community might not want a baseball stadium there, either. But it is our view that we are returning to our North Philly roots—we had stadiums at Broad and Lehigh and 22d and Lehigh—and maybe the community will welcome us home with open arms.
“The key thing here is that even if we don’t get our North Philly Stadium built—the working name is the Philadium—Citizens Bank Park becomes Temple’s at the point in time that we do build a new stadium, wherever in the city that may be. I know Temple fans don’t want to hear the word, but patience is the key word. If Citizens Bank Park becomes obsolete for baseball in, say, 2069, it becomes perfect for Temple football at that time. What this agreement gives Temple now is a sense of certainty. In their quest for a stadium over the last 20 or so years, certainty or done deal has never been part of the lexicon there. Now it is and it gives us some comfort to give them that.”
Happy April Fool’s Day everyone.
Monday: The Last of the Two-Way Players