It would be built 25 feet below sidewalk level on two sides to avoid eclipsing the tops of neighboring rowhouses. Trucks and team buses would enter underground to minimize disruption. The U-shape design would funnel noise toward Center City.
Temple University this week released several more details about its proposed football stadium, stressing its plans to ease disruptions to North Philadelphia neighbors.
The university is pushing ahead with plans for a 35,000-seat stadium, despite outcry from residents who complain they’ve been left out of the conversation and who worry about noise, traffic, parking, and student behavior. The stadium would be built on land owned by Temple, but would require the closure of 15th Street between Montgomery and Norris Streets. No neighborhood residents would be displaced, Temple has said.
The updates came via a presentation, first reported by the Temple News, which administrators had intended to share at a town hall meeting that ended in protests last month.
“We want to get this information out to the community,” said Dozie Ibeh, associate vice president in charge of university projects. Ibeh said the goal is to have all approvals from the city by June in order to start construction, which would take 20 to 24 months to complete.
By being built below sidewalk level on two sides, the stadium would not rise above homes on Norris or 16th Streets. Service vehicles would enter under ground, via 15th between Montgomery Avenue and Berks Street, to avoid disrupting neighbors.
Plans for the U-shape structure, Ibeh said, call for a brick exterior to match the nearby homes. “We’re trying to be respectful and contextual from an architectural perspective,” he said.
A large restaurant, open to the public year-round, and two 10,000-square-foot retail spaces would sit in front of the stadium, facing Broad Street. This would also be the main place through which students enter the stadium.
The portion of the stadium facing rowhouses on 16th Street would be built back and buffered by a community garden.
The highest part of the stadium, a tower on the west end, would include VIP and press boxes, event spaces, and classrooms.
Game day plans
Temple would use the stadium only for the school’s six home games each year. On those days, the university would aim to keep all pre-game parties on campus by organizing university tailgates in various indoor and outdoor locations. Concessions would be provided by Aramark. There are no plans to allow tailgating in parking lots, Ibeh said.
“The intention is to make sure people have things to do to keep them out of the adjacent neighborhood,” Ibeh said.
Students would enter games through two gates farthest from the neighborhood, one on Broad Street and Polett Walk and another at Broad and Norris.
To cut down on underage drinking during games, the university would bring in members of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE), along with university police, said Bill Bergman, the school’s vice president of public affairs.
“Every game, we’d have an agreement with the state police to flood the area with agents,” Bergman said. “We’d pay for that as we do now.”
The school spent $85,000 on BLCE policing for big events last year, a figure that would increase, Bergman said.
The stadium is estimated to cost $130 million but that does not include security or a special services district that would be created to keep the neighborhood safe and clean.
A Temple-funded study by Langan Engineers estimated that for a sold-out game (35,000 people) the university would need 5,000 parking spots.
Temple has 5,294 spots on campus, Ibeh said. Several city and Parking Authority-owned lots are also in the area, he said.
On game days, certain blocks might be closed to non-residents to discourage people from looking for free parking in the neighborhoods.
15th Street Closure
One of the biggest concerns is how closing 15th Street would affect traffic in the neighborhood. Temple’s traffic study found that 15th Street is busiest during weekday mornings, when as many as 315 cars per hour routinely travel between Montgomery and Norris Streets. The university proposes diverting those cars to Broad, which handles a high of about 3,000 vehicles per hour with a capacity for 5,000, according to the study. To do this, Norris, a one-way street, would have to become eastbound or allow two-way traffic.
City Council would have to approve the street closure. Council President Darrell L. Clarke has said he personally does not support the stadium and would reconsider only if the community showed interest in it.
Temple reiterated its promise to create a special services district around the stadium, which would mean twice-a-week trash pickup, in addition to game-day cleanup, and improvements to lighting, sidewalks and streets.
The district would need to be up and running before construction starts on the stadium, Bergman said, to mitigate potential construction headaches for neighbors.
President Richard Englert has also pointed to the Alpha Center as an example of how the community benefits from the university. Temple is building the early childhood learning center and dental clinic at 13th and Diamond Streets. Temple applied for a $10 million state grant for the project through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The center, planned through the College of Education, was in the works before the stadium proposal, Bergman said.
“We’re not doing that because of the stadium. But it will be a tremendous benefit to the neighborhood.”
Bergman said Temple will also sign a legally binding community benefits agreement with neighbors, which could include a pledge to fix up the nearby city-owned Amos Recreation Center.
Partnering with neighbors to sign such an agreement could prove difficult. Temple has struggled to show what, if any, community members support the project. Just this week the vocal opposition group, the Stadium Stompers, organized a small rally against the stadium and coordinated a call-in to council members to voice continued opposition to the plan.
Bergman said there are neighbors “open to conversations.” He said he has met with four small groups since the failed town hall.
“We know there’s a group of people who have concerns,” he said. “Our point is, let’s have a conversation. If people just say, ‘Jeez, I just don’t want a stadium,’ then that’s kind of hard. But if people say, ‘I don’t want a stadium because of traffic or because of sanitation,’ I think there’s a lot we can do that would solve those concerns.”
The presentation and all the renderings Temple has released so far are available on the university website.