Temple Cuts Football Stadium Town Hall Short Amid Fierce Opposition
Protesters drowned out university president Richard Englert ten minutes into his speech.
Temple University’s town hall to discuss contentious plans for an on-campus football stadium ended early on Tuesday evening.
What was supposed to be a forum for community members to both voice their concerns and learn more about the proposed stadium turned in to a high-profile opportunity for those staunchly averse to the stadium to make their opposition known.
The Inquirer reported that ten minutes after the event started in Mitten Hall on Tuesday — and during a speech by university president Richard Englert — around 100 protesters began yelling, “No new stadium! No new stadium!”
The shouts came after Englert said that the 35,000-seat, $130 million stadium would not displace neighbors, which is a major fear of those opposed to the plans. Security quickly escorted Englert out of the building amid the yelling.
Protesters outside Mitten Hall where Temple will hold Town Hall about football stadium plans. pic.twitter.com/gA2uaVAnL4
— Julia Terruso (@JuliaTerruso) March 6, 2018
The Stadium Stompers, the NAACP and the Black Clergy of Philadelphia have all voiced concern over plans for the stadium. Last week, the groups led their own town hall at the neighboring G.W. Carver High School to express their worries. Temple officials were invited to the event but did not attend. Those in attendance said they fear that the stadium would contribute to the ongoing gentrification of the area surrounding Temple by leading to increased rent and home prices, which can indirectly push low-wealth residents out of the neighborhood. They also spoke out against the potential noise, trash and traffic issues that could result from the stadium.
According to reports, the Reverend Dr. William B. Moore of Tenth Memorial Baptist Church, who attended last week’s town hall and is opposed to the stadium, attempted to calm the crowd on Tuesday.
“We don’t want to keep going backward and forward, we’re not going to make any progress behaving like this,” Moore said, according to the Inquirer.
Englert returned briefly to say that the university’s proposal includes plans for a multi-complex facility that would house not just the stadium but also classrooms, research spaces, and a retail complex. Temple cancelled the meeting after the crowd erupted when Englert said that the university needs “to do a better job listening to our neighbors.”
A bizarre night @TempleUniv stadium town hall. Here’s Temple President Englert(seated) refusing to speak to protesters while adviser-lobbyist-former councilman Frank DiCiccio hovers nearby. Too bad they were too busy acting insulted to acknowledge community’s pain. pic.twitter.com/DAaeW9vd2q
— (((Inga Saffron))) (@IngaSaffron) March 7, 2018
In a statement after the meeting’s cancellation, Englert said the facility could benefit both the community and the university “if done right.” He added that the stadium would be sunk below road surface to keep its profile low.
“Our goal is to work with residents to understand how we can ensure there is value to all,” he said.
University administrators are considering building the facility in a northwest section of campus, bound by Broad Street to the east, Norris Street to the north, 16th Street to the west, and Pearson-McGonigle halls and the Aramark Student Training and Recreation Complex, just north of Montgomery Avenue, to the south. Those plans would require 15th Street to close at Norris Street for half a block.
Temple first began mulling plans for an on-campus stadium in 2013. Funding for the facility is expected to come from private donations as well as bonds and expenses that go toward the university’s pricey lease at the Linc, where the school’s football team currently plays.
The school is currently seeking approval for the stadium from the City Planning Commission.