The rent at the Linc is too damn high. That's the biggest problem related to Temple University's plans to build an on-campus stadium that most of its neighbors oppose.
The Eagles plan to raise the annual fee for Temple to play at Lincoln Financial Field from $1 million to $2 million a year, plus $12 million up front, for a new 30-year lease. (Other media reports suggest that the Eagles plan to raise the annual rent to $3 million a year.) In addition, Temple must pay stadium operations fees, and hand over parking and concessions revenue to the Eagles. Last year, Temple exercised its option to stay at the Linc for the 2018 season. It has been exploring building a 35,000-seat stadium on campus for $130 million; however, this plan has met fierce opposition from neighbors and city legislators.
Temple and its neighbors could be on the same side on this issue. Instead of channeling their anger and energy towards Temple, the neighbors could help solve the problem by putting pressure on the Eagles to reduce the rent that they plan to charge Temple so that Temple would shelve its plans to build a stadium.
As a longtime Temple fan, I would be fine with either result.
Temple has averaged around 27,000 fans per game the last two years. It would be nice to see an on-campus stadium so that students don't have to travel to home games. In addition, it would look better to see about 30,000 fans packed into a 35,000-seat stadium as opposed to being scattered over a 70,000-seat stadium. However, Temple's chances of getting into a Power 5 conference would probably be stronger if it were playing at the Linc instead of what would be the smallest Power 5 stadium. Given Temple's recent football success, it should get strong consideration if and when expansion occurs.
For many years, Temple had to overcome the skeptics, doubters, and media critics who wanted the school to drop the sport due to the Owls' lack of competitiveness from 1991 to 2007. However, the last decade has been a great era for Temple football, featuring two bowl wins, an AAC championship, wins over Power 5 teams Penn State, Maryland, and Vanderbilt, and winning records in six of the last nine seasons.
Temple's stadium situation is comparable to Pitt's. The University of Pittsburgh has played its home games at Heinz Field, the Steelers' home stadium, since 2001. According to the Inquirer, Pitt pays rent based on a percentage of ticket sales and a fee for stadium operations, but gets a portion of concession revenue. Basically, the Steelers get little or no profit from their arrangement with Pitt football.
In 2015, Mayor Kenney told the Philadelphia Business Journal, "If the Eagles were living up to their commitment to Philadelphia and our public university, just as the Steelers live up to their commitment to Pittsburgh by renting their stadium for free to Pitt's football team, there wouldn't be a need for a stadium at Temple University,"
According to a 2017 Billy Penn article, other schools, including South Florida, San Diego State, and Georgia State, that rent NFL stadiums for football pay less than $1 million in rent a year.
Most of the media coverage has been slanted against Temple and portrayed it as the bad guy in this situation. In reality, it's unfair to criticize Temple for trying to be fiscally sound to come up with another option than paying a ridiculous amount to play at the Linc.
The Eagles are a sacred cow in this city, especially now that they're riding high after winning the Super Bowl. I'm a lifelong Eagles fan — I've watched pretty much every Eagles game for the last 40 years, and I went to the parade. However, part of the deal of the Eagles' getting the Linc built with public funds was that they would share the venue for other events with Temple, soccer, and concerts, among other things. There should be more public and media pressure urging the Eagles to be good corporate citizens by treating Temple fairly.
To Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who in addition to building a great football franchise has done great things for the city and the community through charity endeavors, this is a chance to do the right thing.
To the media: stop portraying Temple as the evildoer in this situation. Focus instead on how the Eagles could easily solve this problem.
To the Stadium Stompers, who have passionately marched on North Broad Street against Temple's on-campus stadium, I would urge you to direct your passion and energy towards the city and the Eagles to pressure the Eagles to give Temple a fair deal at the Linc.
According to Forbes in 2017, the Eagles were worth $2.5 billion. They can afford to give Temple, the city, and Temple's neighbors a break.