The possibility of an on-campus football stadium at Temple University has resurfaced, and the backlash is vigorous.
On Tuesday, the Stadium Stompers, a group of Temple students and North Philly residents, congregated on Temple’s campus to protest the stadium’s potential construction.
Holding pictures of university trustees, members of the Stadium Stompers presented facts and allegations concerning the trustees— including Board of Trustees Chair Patrick O’Connor’s ties with Bill Cosby. Members handed out pamphlets labeled “Meet your Temple University Board of Trustees!” to students as they rushed through campus.
“Do I represent your interests?” asked Temple grad Jared Dobkin, holding a photograph of Trustee J. William Mills III in front of his face. “Does the board represent your interests?”
“We think the public should know, who are some of the people at Temple University, via the Board of Trustees, who are making these types of decisions?” longtime North Philadelphia resident Jackie Wiggins told Billy Penn before the protest. “I would doubt very seriously if the building of a stadium in any of their neighborhoods would be acceptable.”
Wiggins joined the Stadium Stompers when she heard about proposals to build a $126 million, 35,000-seat complex.
She rattled off a list of facilities— a daycare, George Washington Carver High School, the Amos Recreation Center— that would stand literally in the stadium’s shadow.
“The reality is that, the things that happen many times in North Central Philadelphia have to do with the people, the residents being left out,” Wiggins said.
Hints of Temple’s on-campus stadium first emerged in October 2015.
The idea was proposed as an alternative to Lincoln Financial Field, whom Temple pays $1.8 million a year to play home games.
“Either you’re gonna pay the Eagles a large amount of money, or you’re going to build it on campus,” then-President Neil Theobald told The Temple News at the time.
But for Wiggins, a stadium in her neighborhood isn’t the solution.
“Public dollars built the Linc,” Wiggins said. “Now, there should be some type of renegotiation, it seems to me, with the Linc and Temple University.”
For a while, stadium talks subsided, and Temple’s feasibility study seemingly slowed to a stop.
That silence broke last month, when Temple president Richard Englert announced at a state of the university address that a “multipurpose facility” was still in the picture.
As the stadium discussions faltered and returned, the Stadium Stompers continued meeting to plan protests, host workshops and craft petitions.
At the protest, Wiggins encouraged students and residents to work together, quoting an African proverb.
“When spider webs unite, they can tie up the lion,” Wiggins said.
Here are more scenes from the protest: