Are Temple football stadium ideas more than just talk?

Posted: August 26, 2013

Any talk of Temple building an on-campus football stadium - and there is some talk, if you find the right people to talk to - may have an end game: A chance for some leverage with the Eagles when it's time to negotiate a new deal after the current one to use Lincoln Financial Field runs out in 2017.

Temple president Neil Theobald, who will be personally involved in any negotiations, isn't shy about talking about the idea of a stadium near North Broad Street.

"Every university wants an on-campus stadium," Theobald said in a recent interview in his office. "That's five years out. We probably won't make a decision for a year or two. If we had a stadium now, we couldn't use it, because we've got five years left with the Eagles."

But Theobald uses the words "certainly under consideration."

In this present climate where state and city funding aren't going to build a stadium, is this at all realistic?

Theobald put it this way: "Several million dollars a year in TV revenue generates a bonding capability. I think if we were going to move forward - and, again, this is way out there - it would need to have a community aspect. We would love to have the high schools play there. It would certainly have an academic piece."

He talked of the possibility of classrooms inside the stadium.

"This wouldn't just be a football stadium that gets used six times a year and just sits there the rest of the time," the president said.

Under the current deal, Temple pays the Eagles about $1 million a year and has operating costs on top of that. If the Eagles are looking for that number to go up, there may be another bit of leverage. The Eagles did, in fact, receive state and city funds to build the stadium, and it was part of their original pitch that other games would be held in it.

As it turned out, there have been only irregular soccer games, especially since Major League Soccer turned to smaller, soccer-specific parks. So Temple games are the biggest part of that community aspect from the original pitch. Maybe the Eagles feel they have put enough money back in city coffers to make any additional deals strictly a straight financial transaction. It will be interesting to see if politicians with Temple ties agree.

And maybe the stadium talk isn't all about leverage. Al Golden constantly talked about Temple's needing one. Some Owls alums would love to see it. Matt Rhule, the new Owls coach, surely wouldn't complain, although he leaves the talking about it to his bosses.

"Would we like to see a stadium on campus?" said Temple interim athletic director Kevin Clark. "I think it would be very beneficial. But at the end of the day, we have a lot of other needs, and when I say needs, I mean the university. It wouldn't be a commitment that would be made by one person."

"I don't know if that's the best use of funds we have available," Theobald said. "But that's to be determined by trustees down the road."

The road just isn't too long. Strategic plans demand long-term thinking.

"You've got to look at that option," Theobald said.

Especially if the Eagles intend to raise the rent sky-high.


Contact Mike Jensen at mjensen@phillynews.com. Follow @jensenoffcampus on Twitter.

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