After years of increasing backlash—including from the NAACP—Temple University released new details on a proposed North Philly football stadium this week. It’s an effort to quell some protesters’ fears about the project’s effect on the surrounding neighborhood.
The proposed $130 million, 35,000-seat football stadium, which would sit on the corner of Broad and Norris Streets on Temple’s campus, would feature—among other things—an off-street drop-off and trash pickup area, and below-grade seating to ensure the height of the stadium matches that of the surrounding row homes, according to the plan.
“Temple has heard concerns from local residents on a variety of issues, including parking, traffic, student behavior, trash,” the university wrote in the beginning of their presentation, addressing backlash over the proposed development.
The university argued in their presentation that the stadium wouldn’t have a negative effect on the community and in fact, may actually be a boon to the surrounding neighborhood. The stadium would sit on Norris Street, between Broad and 16th Streets, and would require getting rid of a portion of 15th Street in that area. The loss of a portion of 15th Street is just the first contentious issue, causing some residents worry about increased traffic to the area. The university said they believe that traffic will be diverted to Broad Street and won’t pose a serious congestion risk, according to the presentation.
Temple also addressed concerns about an increase of visitors to the area, especially with the proposed 28,000 feet of retail space that they want to bring in alongside the stadium. They said that space—along with the stadium’s two entrances—will sit on Broad Street, facing away from the surrounding neighborhood in order to cut down on congestion.
Since the stadium proposal was first put forth, a major concern among residents has been what effect the development will have on the surrounding community during game day, a question the university made sure to address in their presentation.
“(Temple) intends to contain game-day experiences, including tailgating, in the interior of campus,” they said, adding that they’ve identified “fan zones” on campus where stadium-goers can celebrate, as well as ample parking space for the estimated 5,000 cars they anticipate on game days.
A final issue the presentation sought to address was that of how the stadium will look. According to the presentation the school planned for some of the stadium seats to be below sidewalk-level, in order to keep the stadium at the same height as nearby homes. Likewise, the Norris Street facade of the stadium will be brick, to mirror those neighborhood row homes.
In addition to addressing major community concerns, the university discussed a few parts of their proposal that may benefit the surrounding neighborhood and residents, like a small community garden and a promise to upgrade Norris Street sidewalks.
The details were released this week, following several community protests about the stadium. In fact, this week’s proposal was meant to be released at a town hall last month, which was cut short by protesters, according to Temple News.
In recent weeks, one of the most talked-about demonstrations was held by the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, whose president, Rodney Muhammed, argued that the area can’t afford the stadium, and suggested the university build it in Rittenhouse Square instead. Another demonstration was held Monday, this time with local elders and disabled people, who would be, “in the impact zone” of the stadium, according to a statement released by protesters.
“It seems the university’s massive $130 million sports project is less about community need, but cleverly disguised Temple greed,” community organizer Ruth Birchett said in the statement.
Even with the new information, it’s likely the discussion regarding the stadium is far from over. The university hasn’t yet submitted their proposal to the City Planning Commission, but announced their plans to do so in January.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Temple has submitted their proposal. In fact, they have only announced plans to submit it, but haven’t yet turned it in.