Temple stadium 2
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The case against the Eagles: It looks like Philly’s NFL team is robbing Temple

The team received public funding from the state and the city. Now it’s charging way more than the going rate for Temple, a publicly-funded university, to use the Linc a few times a year.

The possibility of an on-campus Temple stadium continues to dominate conversation on North Broad Street. Students and alumni want a place they can call home for what they believe is a football team on the rise, but many neighbors don’t want to see Temple further take over their neighborhood.

Enter the Eagles.

Philadelphia’s NFL team has plenty to do with Temple’s stadium dreams, largely because the Eagles are making it financially irresponsible for Temple to continue using Lincoln Financial Field. This is something Mayor Jim Kenney brought up last month when he said the Eagles were frustrating him because of their relationship with Temple.

They are not … as community-committed as the Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers are,” he said.  

The Eagles received public funding from the state and the city. Now the team is charging way more than the going rate for Temple, a publicly-funded university, to use the Linc a few times a year. Here’s how it works:

The $188 million city price tag

All together, the city and the state paid for about $188 million of the $512 million it took to build Lincoln Financial Field. It was part of a deal in 2000 that included funding for Citizens Bank Park as well. The only tax hike that accompanied the stadium plan was on rental cars, so visitors had to shoulder that burden.

This plan didn’t come without frustration. Both the deals passed by the state and the city came with a great amount of acrimony and delay. At one point, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue hinted the league might let the Eagles leave Philadelphia if no stadium was built.

In 2000, when things were reaching a do or die point, the Eagles demanded either funding for the new stadium or $80 million in renovation to Veterans Stadium. Then-Mayor John Street set a deadline of late November of 2000 for getting the deal done. Though most of Council ended up supporting the deal, then-Councilman Kenney was not a fan of how rushed they were at the deadline. Kenney said agreeing to the deadline “was the dumbest thing I ever did on Council.”

A 36 percent share

Philadelphia actually did pretty well by only contributing $188 million. We could have been forced to pay far more.

Convention Sports & Leisure has compiled a listing of prices for recent stadiums and the public input for each. Philly’s $188 million, about 36 percent of the stadium’s total cost, is a small percentage compared to some of our peers. The public share of 36 percent ranks as the sixth lowest. But no matter how it compares to other teams, $188 million is still $188 million.

Graph Linc
Convention, Sports & Leisure

Temple’s overpriced $1.8 million (and rising) rent

It looks like Kenney’s beef about the Eagles’ rent at Lincoln Financial Field is right; it’s steep for Temple. Since 2003, the school has been paying the Eagles $1.8 million a year to use the stadium. The Eagles get to keep the money from concessions and parking, too. With the end of that deal nearing in 2017, the Eagles now want Temple to pay $12 million for renovations and then around $3 million per year going forward.

A handful of other universities play in NFL stadiums and they haven’t had to deal with nearly as high rates.

South Florida, which plays in the Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium, has a deal through the 2016 season that costs it $145,000 a game — or a little under a million for six games — plus a ticket surcharge. Tampa Bay is renovating the stadium soon and not making South Florida pay for any of it.

San Diego State, which plays at Qualcomm Stadium (home of the Chargers until they probably leave for Los Angeles), basically pays nothing. The city operates the stadium and charges San Diego State just a fee of $1 per ticket sold to play there. The total adds up to about $100,000 a year.

Georgia State uses the Atlanta Falcons’ home, the Georgia Dome, and pays somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 per game.

And, on the other side of Pennsylvania, Pitt must only pay a share of ticket sales to use Heinz Field, a stadium funded by the state in the same way the Linc was. That rent is nowhere near as high as Temple’s.

Update: The Eagles did not address any specific questions of Billy Penn but offered this statement they released last month when Kenney criticized the team:

“The Eagles have been good community partners with the City of Philadelphia on a host of matters ranging from the support of the Army-Navy game, our partnership with Temple University, our work with the Philadelphia Sports Congress in attracting international events and concerts to Lincoln Financial Field and our charitable community work.

“We have not only completely honored our obligations with Temple but have gone above and beyond to support Temple football at Lincoln Financial Field. In fact, we recently expanded our relationship with the university this past season.

“Dr. Theobald has personally expressed to me his desire to pursue the construction of a stadium on the campus of Temple University.  As he and I discussed, that endeavor is a decision solely for Temple University and its Board of Trustees. That decision is completely independent of the university’s relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles.”

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