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April 03, 2016

Protesters plan 'Day of Action' against Temple's $100 million stadium proposal

Stadium Stompers say university has 'crisis of priorities' as it moves forward with design phase

Development Communities
Stock_Carroll - Police at Temple University Thom Carroll, File/PhillyVoice

The campus of Temple University in North Philadelphia.

A North Philadelphia community group opposed to Temple University's $100 million stadium proposal will hold a "Day of Action" on April 14 to mobilize against the controversial development project.

The Stadium Stompers, a coalition of community members, students and faculty, intend to shut down North Broad Street in protest of the plan approved by the university's Board of Trustees, who hope to bring a 35,000 seat stadium to a site bounded by Broad Street west to 16th Street and Norris Street south to Montgomery Avenue, according to Temple News.

“We are going to completely shut down North Broad Street,” said Stadium Stompers leader Pele IrgangLaden. “North of City Hall up to Temple is going to be non-functional. I think that’s a very clear message: if [Temple administration] continues to ignore us, your city is not going to function.”

The group, which expects to mobilize between 1,000-2,000 people, argues that Temple has a "crisis of priorities" and "has repeatedly shown disrespect towards the local Black community, pushing people out of their homes and using their police force to intimidate community members."

The resolution passed by Temple's Board of Trustees in February pledges to collaborate with community members and government officials to address residents' concerns, such as parking, trash and noise, but does not explicitly acknowledge the thorny issue of gentrification that has driven local and political resistance to the proposal.

In addition to the stadium, the plan calls for a new student recreation center and a significant retail presence that the university hopes will benefit students, alumni, fans, and the community. Funding for the project would come from a combination of private donations and bonds supported by money redirected from Temple's rent payments to Lincoln Financial Field, where the Owls' ascending AAC football team has played their home games since 2003. Student tuition would not be used to fund the project.

Source/Temple University/City Council

Map of possible site for proposed Temple stadium.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has criticized both Temple and the Philadelphia Eagles over the circumstances of the proposal. In December, before a meeting with Temple's leadership, Kenney said the Eagles should give the university a better deal than the $2 million rent (plus $12 million up front) that has been offered to replace the $1 million rent and stadium operation fees in the current lease set to expire in 2017.

After the meeting, Kenney's spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt, said the then mayor-elect had concerns about Temple's relationship with the surrounding community and wanted to see those "long-standing issues" addressed before reconsidering his position on the stadium.

Last Tuesday, Temple announced the selection of Moody Nolan, the largest African-American architecture firm in the United States, to lead the design of the proposed stadium. The company holds special expertise in college athletics and recreation, completing more than 100 projects for universities including Penn State, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Depaul, according to The Philadelphia Tribune.

Curtis J. Moody, the firm's founder and CEO, said he anticipates working with all stakeholders during the design process.

“We look forward to working together with Temple University and the surrounding community. Creating a vibrant and cohesive streetscape experience that blends together the planned stadium, the significant retail components, the adjacent indoor recreation facility and various pedestrian plaza and green spaces will be a significant part of the evolution of the overall design strategy.”

Temple's selection of Moody Nolan comes as Philadelphia City Council, in its review of the proposed capital budget for 2017 and a fiscal plan through 2021, urges greater inclusion of minorities on city contracts. Mayor Kenney's transition team pointed out that only 32 percent of city contracts were delivered to businesses owned by minority, women or handicapped individuals in the fiscal year 2015.

On April 14, at around 3 p.m., Stadium Stompers will be joined by 32 other organizations for the walk-out demonstration, eight of which are student-run. Fight for 15 and the Coalition for Real Justice will also participate to advocate for a higher minimum wage and an end to stop-and-frisk policing.

IringLaden says Stadium Stompers has repeatedly reached out to Temple's administration to engage in a dialogue, but the group's messages have not been answered.

A Facebook event page for the Walk-Out shows invitations have been extended to more than two thousand people and 214 people have confirmed plans to attend as of Sunday night.