TAUP Members Say “No” by Nearly 3:1 to an On-Campus Football Stadium at Temple

502 members of our bargaining unit of 2800–including those who pay dues to TAUP and those who don’t–responded to our survey on the idea of building an on-campus football stadium. The results indicate that our members overwhelmingly reject the plan to build an on-campus stadium.  We urge the Board of Trustees to listen to Temple’s faculty, librarians, and academic professionals before making a decision on this project, which, if built, will irrevocably affect Temple and its neighbors.

Here’s the tally for the central question:

I support the building of an on-campus football stadium.

            Option # responses Response %
Strongly disagree 274 54.80%
Disagree  67 13.40%
Undecided  41  8.20%
Agree  42  8.40%
Strongly Agree  76 15.20%

 

So: 68.2% against, with over half strongly against, vs. 23.6% for.

Here is the breakdown of responses the same question by constituency within the Union:

 

Academic Professionals Adjunct Faculty Librarians Full-time

Non-tenure- track Faculty

Tenure-Track

Faculty

Strongly Disagree 8 (32%) 67  (64.4%) 11  (64.7%) 69   (46%) 111 (62.7%)
Disagree 0 15  (14.4%) 2    (11.7%) 21   (14%) 25   (14.1%)
Undecided 1 (4%) 7    (6.7%) 1    (5.6%) 15   (10%) 15    (8.5%)
Agree 3 (12%) 4    (3.8%) 0 21   (14%) 12    (6.8%)
Strongly 13 (42%) 11  (10.6%) 4   (22.2%)    24    (16%) 14    (7.9%)

Considered individually, almost every college and school in TAUP had more members  opposing the stadium than supporting it (see Appendix, below, for data).

This is clearly an issue that our members have been following closely—73.6% say very or somewhat closely.  And their responses indicate they are unpersuaded by the administration’s claims:

  • 70.9% agree that the money that has been and will be spent on the stadium would be better spent on other priorities.
  • 70.6% disagree with the claim that “a football stadium is a natural next step” in improving Temple’s facilities.
  • 66.2% worry that the stadium will damage Temple’s relationship with our neighbors in North Philadelphia.
  • 63.3% doubt that the cost of the stadium will stay within the Board’s announced cap of $130 million.
  • 55.2% doubt that the stadium will meet the Board’s goal of saving $3 million a year through 2024. (29% were undecided.)

On one other question about specific alternatives to an on-campus stadium, our members’ views were less determinative.  41.2% agreed that Temple should explore further the possibility of playing at Penn’s Franklin Field, but a similar percentage said they were undecided.

The views of our members are clear in the 161 discursive responses.

Thirteen were in favor of building the stadium; those that offered reasons pointed to the benefits it would provide as “part of the total school identity.” They instanced the money it would bring in from alumni—“nothing else,” one commenter said, would “bring alumni back to a vibrant campus”–and from revenue generated directly by the program, pointing to Alabama and Ohio State as schools where athletic revenues bolster academics. A couple respondents argued that “the neighbors aren’t going to be happy with anything we do” and that the neighborhood would benefit from the investment, instancing Camden Yards in Baltimore.  Some made their support contingent on it actually generating net revenue.

A few took issue with statements in the survey, such as the proposition that the money spent on this effort could be spent elsewhere or that Temple could play at Penn’s Franklin Field.   A few others objected that the survey as a whole is biased against the stadium.   For anyone interested, we would be happy to make the questions and quantitative response available.  (The discursive responses identify some respondents and thus cannot be shared.)

Four contributors were undecided, with one wishing that the parties would try to find a way to make it a “win-win”  and another acknowledging the excitement that a winning program can bring.

But the vast majority of the respondents voiced opposition to the stadium, and they cited a variety of reasons.  Although some recognized the difficult situation that Temple is in with the Eagles’ increasing the rent at Lincoln Financial Field, many pointed out that studies show that investments in stadiums, including college football stadiums, and investments in college football as a whole, very frequently end up costing institutions a great deal of money.  

In this vein, many turned specifically to Temple’s football program, doubting that the projected stadium would be large enough to generate the needed revenue or help vault Temple into one of the “power conferences” that have licensing deals rich enough to make programs profitable.  Others doubted that the football team would ever enjoy the support necessary to fill the stadium, with one noting that Temple would have to pay to use Lincoln Financial Field in any case if we play teams with large fanbases like Penn State and Notre Dame.  As one respondent put it:  “I have lived in Philadelphia my whole life, and been an avid sports fan for most of it. I have never met a single person who identifies as a serious Temple football fan,” in contrast to the basketball team, which a few said would be a better candidate for investment.

Many worried that cost over-runs or rosy revenue projections would result in money being diverted from academic programs.  As one  respondent said, “The data is readily available, and the Administration just needs the courage to admit the moral and economic failures of football programs, then get back to focusing on creating knowledge, not destroying young people’s’ bodies for entertainment.”

This response includes two other reasons cited by many others–the harmful physical effects of football on the players, and the belief that football should be lower on Temple’s list of priorities.  Given the emerging data on concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalophathy, many questioned the morality of continuing to promote football; and others, including a season ticket holder, predicted that the increasing awareness of these effects would accelerate the downward trend in youth football participation and lead to a decline in the popularity of the sport. That would, in turn, lead to a decrease in revenue from football.   

Many others who responded questioned spending money on a stadium—an investment they did not believe would yield revenue—at the expense of other needs more central to Temple’s mission.  They cited a lack of classroom space, poor pay for adjuncts, the need for more student aid, “a palsied digital infrastructure, scarce administrative support for routine business, and limited financial aid for graduate students.”  More than a few viewed the stadium as part of a larger emphasis on buildings and sports at the expense of research, creative activity, teaching, and service that marks Temple’s turn to a corporate model.   

This concern speaks to a final cause cited by many to oppose the stadium—that it would worsen Temple’s already-frayed relationship with our neighbors in North Philadelphia, bringing unwanted traffic and noise and constituting a “threat to the fabric of the community.”  A few expressed support for the Stadium Stompers, a North Philadelphia community group dedicated to blocking the stadium.   

This survey indicates strong opposition to the plan to build an on-campus football stadium  among the members of TAUP’s bargaining unit.  This will, of course, be a decision for the Trustees.  We know the choices they must make as they guide Temple through uncertain times are often difficult.  But it is for that very reason that we urge them to listen to those who will be profoundly affected by this decision, including the students, the North Philadelphia community, and the faculty, librarians, and academic professionals in TAUP.  The students have not, we think, been sufficiently consulted; our neighbors in North Philly have spoken vehemently against the stadium; and now TAUP’s members have done the same.  

 

Survey data by College and School

College or School Art & Arch- itecture Business (Fox) Education Engineering Liberal Arts Media & Com- munication (Klein) Music and Dance (Boyer)
Strongly Disagree 15 (88.2%) 20 (31.7%) 11 (44%) 9

(52.9%)

110

(71.4%)

9

(47.3%)

12

(57.1%)

Disagree 2 (11.8%) 14

(22.2%)

3

(12%)

2

(11.8%)

17

(11%)

1

(5.3%)

3

(14.3%)

Undecided 0 2 (3.1%) 4

(16%)

2  

(11.8%)

10

(6.5%)

2

(10.6%)

3

(14.3%)

Agree 0 11 (17.5%) 2

(8%)

0 6

(3.9%)

1

(5.3%)

2

(9.5%)

Strongly

Agree

0 16

(25.4%)

5

(20%)

4

(23.5%)

11

(7.1%)

6

(31.6%)

1

(4.8%)

College or School  Pharmacy Public Health Science and Technology Social Work Sport, Tourism,

and Hospitality Mgmt

Theater, Film, and Media Arts
Strongly Disagree 1

(20%)

10

(32.2%)

39

(59.1%)

2

(40%)

2

(20%)

6

(54.5%)

Disagree 0 5

(16.1%)

10

(15.5%)

1

(20%)

0 1

(9.1%)

Undecided 2

(40%)

3

(9.7%)

6

(10.2%)

1

(20%)

0 1

(9.1%)

Agree 0 5

(16.1%)

9

(13.6%)

1

(20%)

1

(10%)

0
Strongly Agree 2

(40%)

8

(25.8%)

3

(4.5%)

0 7

(70%)

3

(27.3%)

 

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