Temple's goal: 35,000-seat, $100 million stadium

Temple's goal to build a football stadium on campus has received "some seven-figure commitments" for funding, the chairman of the university's board of trustees said Thursday.

Chairman Patrick O'Connor confirmed that a proposed 35,000-seat stadium with an estimated cost of $100 million is being pursued for the northwest corner of campus. He said the issue is expected to be discussed at the December trustees meeting. "We are moving forward and exploring every option," he said.

The stadium would rise about a block or two behind the Liacouras Center.

That location has been a hub of activity. This summer the Triangle apartment complex at Broad and Norris Streets was torn down to make way for Norris Park, 43,000 square feet of open space.

A recent City Council bill proposes the construction of a multi-use indoor athletic building near McGonigle Hall at 15th Street and Montgomery Avenue. The bill also proposes converting the football team's existing outdoor practice field at 10th and Diamond Streets to an indoor practice facility.

The site of the team's current indoor practice facility could be needed for stadium grounds. University officials would not confirm stadium specifics.

The potential stadium area is the site of Geasey Field, where the field hockey and women's lacrosse teams play. Those teams are slated to move to a new facility regardless of whether a football stadium is approved.

Beginning next fall, Temple will have a sports complex at the site of the old William Penn High School, where the women's and men's soccer, women's lacrosse, field hockey and women's track and field teams will compete.

Temple's opponents in the American Athletic Conference have built football stadiums of comparable size. Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium was at 35,000 before an $86 million expansion to 40,000 this year. Houston's TDECU Stadium holds 40,000 and East Carolina's Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, where the Owls played Thursday night, seats 50,000.

O'Connor said if a stadium is built, it would be much more than just for the football team. "We want it for community events such as high school sporting events, along with concerts and academic purposes," he said.

Fund raising will be a key and Temple officials have been talking with potential donors. "We are doing a campaign to see the level of interest," O'Connor said. "We have already gotten some seven-figure commitments."

"We don't want to use tuition dollars for this," he added.

O'Connor stressed how important it is to work with those who will be affected by the project.

"We have to make sure that the community and city support this project," he said. "We are working with the city leaders, the community and alumni on this."

Before any groundbreaking, the university would need to clear regulatory and community hurdles. When Temple built the Liacouras Center, its basketball arena - formerly the Apollo - the project was held up for a year by City Council.

Temple entered its game at East Carolina with a 6-0 record and ranked in the top 25 for the first time since the end of the 1979 season. The Owls are No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the USA Today coaches poll.

However, this is not just a matter of striking while the team is hot. O'Connor said these plans have been ongoing. Of course, it doesn't hurt the cause that the football team has fared well.

The Owls sold out Lincoln Financial Field for their opening 27-10 win over Penn State with an attendance of 69,176. On Oct. 31, Temple will host Notre Dame at the Linc in another game that has been sold out.

"We feel there is energy for the football program," O'Connor said. "But again, this has to be more than just a football stadium. We want many to benefit from it."

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard