Temple Stadium Not Cool, Say People Who’d Have to Live Across From It
Temple’s football team is killing it this season, and people are pretty pumped about the prospect of building an on-campus stadium. Significantly less pumped, however, are the residents across the street from the proposed site, who face the potential of a 35,000-seat stadium directly outside their front door.
Proposals being discussed would commandeer Amos Recreation Center, a small playground and swimming pool, and Geasey Field, a large artificial-turf field used by both Temple Athletics and the surrounding community.
We talked to several neighbors — including the high school across the street — and none said they had been contacted by the University about the project.
Freddie Bolden, who has lived at her house on Norris Street since the 1970s, runs a small daycare out of the home next to hers.
“They haven’t said a thing,” Bolden said “I didn’t know anything about this until Sunday. My neighbor gave me a piece of paper that some reporter gave her, and it said that’s what they’re getting ready to do. I think it’s horrible”
In a phone interview, Temple University spokesperson Ray Betzner said the school is in constant communication with the non-student residents surrounding the campus. He also emphasized that the project is not set in stone, which is why they have not reached out to anyone yet, and that residents can voice their concerns at the Board of Trustees meeting focusing on the stadium on December 8th.
“This is going to be a dialogue. We want to hear the concerns,” Betzner said. He drew comparisons between the stadium and the Liacouras Center on Broad Street, which he said at first drew criticism from the community, but is now “the crown jewel of North Philly.”
The prospect of a stadium there faces several challenges beyond neighborly grievance, including where people will park (tailgating is a huge part of football culture, and tailgating in a parking garage doesn’t sound like much fun) and how traffic will flow through the residential area.
“Some are thinking we want to bring the Linc to North Philly,” Betzner said. “We’re not. We share the same concerns, and our ultimate goal is to have the best game-day experience.” He added that the goal would be for the campus to be the place of celebration, as opposed to the immediate neighborhood surrounding the stadium.
Bolden said she takes her daycare students to the field and recreation center, which she says are the only recreation areas left in the community since the area has been taken over by student housing.
“They run around [Geasey Field] freely and play ball … and they’re gonna take all that away? They really love that field. I can’t imagine them putting this thing right in front of us,” Bolden said. “And the recreation center over there with the pool? That’s all kids around here have in the summer.”
Meanwhile, a few doors down, Daniel Briley has a more cynical — and probably more realistic — outlook on the project.
“I don’t think about it. What are you going to do about it? Worry myself and get a heart attack? Of course I don’t want it. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. Money talks, bullshit walks. Me being mad, what’s that gonna accomplish? Are they still gonna build that thing over there whether I’m mad or not?” said Briley, who’s lived in his house for 69 years.
Briley said, while he will miss “God’s free air,” looking southward to the Center City skyline, it’s simply not worth his time and energy to be upset about.
“Let me tell you something. On June 14, 1956, I was on a plane to Vietnam. I fought with the First Infantry Division. June ’67? I came home. I don’t let shit like this bother me. I survived Vietnam. Hell with all this shit out here. I ain’t worried about it.”
Bolden, meanwhile, said she plans to go to the December meeting. She sees speaking up there as her last recourse but, like Briley, isn’t optimistic.
“I’m gonna go to the meeting and talk to them. I can’t imagine them putting this thing right in front of us. We probably won’t have much say-so. When an organization as big as Temple does something like this can you really do anything to stop it? If it’s gotten this far, they’re probably going through with this. I’m not the type of person to go to the picket line to protest, but I raised my kids here.”
Bolden and Briley both said they remember before Geasey Field was there, a cemetery stood in its place in 1950s. It was torn up, and the bodies were relocated to under the Betsy Ross Bridge. They also agreed that on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the neighborhood is already swarmed with disrespectful, drunken students as it is.
Bolden said she has walked out her door to find vomit, Solo cups, and trash on her stoop. Gourds from a display on her windowsill were also stolen and smashed. Briley said he’s been startled awake by loud music and rowdy kids.
There was one neighbor we spoke to, however, that was relatively optimistic about the idea. George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science, which faces the western side of the site, sees potential in a partnership.
“Being on a college campus is part of the school’s identity. We have a strong relationship with Temple,” H.S.E.S. principal Ted Domers said. “All in all, I’m hoping this will provide us with additional resources. If there’s something like, say, a Thursday night game, that would be an issue we would have to figure out down the line.”
Follow @RobDiRienzo on Twitter.