Temple Football Stadium Protesters Are Misguided

By Mike Gibson

It seems like these days the best way to grab attention for an issue is to organize a protest and shut down a few blocks, even if the protest is misguided by pesky things like facts. That’s what a few hundred people did the other day protesting against a football stadium at Temple University in Philadelphia.

A group called the “Stadium Stompers” railed against the proposed $126 million stadium, a project with a January groundbreaking date planned. They have a number of objections to the stadium. One of the major ones on its website is that the university will infringe on lands beyond its campus and another concern is that the money used for a stadium can be used on other projects, like a health clinic. “No New Stadium” signs are popping all over campus even though polls by both the student newspaper and television station demonstrated overwhelming support for a stadium from the student body as a whole.

When those two points are easily debunked—for example, the land for a stadium exists on the site of a turf complex, Geasey Field, all entirely inside the campus—the protesters do not want to hear it. Since the money for the stadium will be raised by private donations from stadium supporters, that objection is also unfounded.

Imagine Temple fundraisers going to deep-pocketed donors and saying, “Sorry, change of plans. You know that $15 million donation you gave to a stadium? Can we use that for a health clinic instead?” Phones would be hanging up all over the Philadelphia area. It’s not an either/or proposition; the money will go to a stadium or there would be no money. At least that’s the way things are supposed to work in a free marketplace. Big donors will give big money to projects they support and, generally speaking, it is easier to raise money for a stadium than a health clinic.

When Temple head coach Matt Rhule was wooed by Missouri at the end of last year, the university convinced him to stay with a hefty pay raise and a commitment to “improved facilities” which meant a stadium. The new contract did not say anything about improved facilities unless a lot of protesters objected.

This is what Temple will have to deal with until a stadium is built and probably beyond, but while protesters might have an issue they feel is worthwhile, sometimes a little research would save both shoe leather and needless stress.

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