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Protests Cut Temple Football Stadium Meeting Short

Temple stadium rendering

A Tuesday meeting over a proposed Temple football stadium was cut short, as protesters voiced their opposition to the project.

Proposed for a location that is bound by Broad Street on the east; Norris Street on the north; 16th Street on the west; and Pearson-McGonigle halls and the Aramark Student Training and Recreation (STAR) Complex on the south, the Temple football stadium would be built on land that is owned by the university. Temple University president Richard M. Engler is expected to file a project submission to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission for the proposal, but several groups have voiced their opposition to the plan.

Among the concerns that opponents have expressed to this point are that the stadium will have a negative effect on North Philadelphia, and ultimately displace residents. Temple University staged a town hall meeting on Tuesday that was to include remarks from Engler and the stadium architects, followed by a Q&A session. However, Engler was escorted out by security shortly after beginning his comments because of protests from the audience. Though he would briefly return to further discuss the proposal, the meeting was ultimately cancelled. More from The Philadelphia Inquirer:

“What we witnessed tonight is what we’ve experienced over the last two years,” the Rev. William Moore, who opposes the stadium but tried to calm the crowd, said after the failed meeting. “People are frustrated because they feel their voices are not heard nor respected, and this is what we got.”

Englert had gotten about one page into his five pages of prepared remarks when he said that no one would be displaced by the stadium project, a major concern of residents in the North Philadelphia neighborhood that has watched Temple’s footprint expand. A few audience members yelled out, “Liar!” and then a group of more than 100 people started chanting: “No new stadium. No new stadium!”….

Moore, a member of the Stadium Stompers, a residents’ group that opposes the plan, got on stage to encourage the crowd of hecklers to listen to the presentation.

“We don’t want to keep going backward and forward, we’re not going to make any progress behaving like this,” he told the crowd.

Englert returned briefly to say Temple would use the stadium for community activities, including youth sports. He also said the school would build an early learning and mental health center at 13th and Diamond Streets and a Laborers Union training facility in the area, and make a “substantial” investment in Amos Recreation Center. When he briefly went off script to say, “I understand we need to do a better job of listening to our neighbors,” the crowd erupted again in jeers and the meeting was canceled.

Temple has proposed the 35,000-seat stadium as a way to find its own facility and eliminate the high rent costs of playing at Lincoln Financial Field. The stadium plan also includes classroom space and 28,000 square feet of retail, and could lead to the creation of a privately funded stadium services district to help maintain the surrounding area. Groups opposed to the plan, however, have expressed several concerns over the proposal, including an increase in traffic and trash that could come from the stadium, the potential to displace North Philadelphia residents, and the closing of 15th Street between Montgomery Avenue and Norris Street.

The proposed Temple football stadium is slated to cost $130 million. It has been estimated for a 2020 opening, with Temple remaining at Lincoln Financial Field through 2019, though that is dependent upon the proposal receiving proper approval. The university would look to solicit private donations and issue bonds to back the project. It would also sell stadium naming rights, and obtain gate and concessions revenue.

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