Temple needs to recognize community relations issues surrounding new stadium

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It’s 7:15 am and my feet hit my snow covered stoop as I walk out of my North Philadelphia apartment. About half way down the block I pass my neighbor Mick and say the same thing that I say to him every time we cross paths, “what’s going on man?” He nods and I keep walking. The thing is, I usually do not care what is going on with Mick. I am just asking as a greeting, without ever really expecting him to answer. Recently, I began to wonder what he would say if he ever decided to really answer my question.

Mick has lived in North Philadelphia for much longer than I have and likely much longer than I will. Our relationship has always been friendly since the day I moved in, but I often wonder how he feels about the influx of Temple students and vast changes that have overtaken his neighborhood. So when I ask that question now, I almost hope that he will vent his frustrations over my university. For me personally, no tension exists with any of my neighbors. However, with Temple moving forward with its plans to build an on-campus football stadium, I cannot help but fear that tensions may grow stronger between Temple and the community.

Despite protests from groups of Temple students and North Philadelphia community members, Temple seems set on building the football stadium. Even I will admit that selfishly, I want a football stadium on campus. Athletics are a great source of school pride and it would be a tremendous step for a Temple football program, of which I am a huge fan.

However, it is vital to view the construction of the stadium through a lens that has a larger scope than just Temple University. One of the pieces that makes our school so unique and, in my opinion, great is that we share the area with a large community of different people who share no ties to Temple University, other than proximity. Ignoring their opinion on something as large as putting a football stadium in the heart of their neighborhood only increases tensions that I had hoped we were beginning to erase.

While the football stadium would be great for the appeal and marketability of our university, it would also create a major community relations concern for Temple. If Temple is in fact moving forward with the stadium, they need to make plans for how this stadium can benefit the community. One might argue that this stadium would hold no benefit to the community and would just act as a burden to the people of North Philadelphia. However, I see one group of the community who an on-campus stadium could benefit: the youth.

The stadium could become a very positive place for the kids of the community. It is a potentially outstanding venue for day camp programs run by Temple athletics exclusively for the North Philadelphia kids. Temple needs to provide free tickets to games held in the stadium for kids in the community. By creating benefits to the youth, the stadium could act as a positive representation of the university to the community, rather than a burden. Temple needs to use the venue to paint a very positive picture of the university for kids in the community, a picture very different than the one their parents may currently have.

This guys blog post was written by PRowl staff member Jason Conway. 

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