If Temple University cannot convince him that North Philadelphia residents want a football stadium in their neighborhood, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke doesn’t want one either.
“Until they get the support of the local community, I will not even entertain a stadium,” Clarke told The Tribune on Tuesday. “But that’s not news. I have been saying that since Day One.”
Until recently, Clarke has been depicted by many of the opponents to Temple’s proposed multi-facility complex — which is projected to include a 35,000-seat football stadium costing in the range of $130 million — as a supporter of the project.
Temple has targeted the area near 15th and Norris streets as the site for the stadium.
However, on Tuesday, Clarke said he has not seen plans from Temple that suggest the university, which has received stiff community opposition to the plan, has made any inroads in terms of convincing the North-Central Philadelphia community that the stadium is a good idea.
“At the end of the day, the conversation has always been centered on what Temple needed to do to get the support of the local community,” Clarke said. “And I do mean the local community. I want to emphasize that because there are a lot of people weighing in on this who don’t remotely come from the community. And that is their right because this is America.
“But I’m more concerned about those local residents,” Clarke continued. “I’ve also said that if they were interested in pursuing a stadium at that location I would entertain it. But I did not ever commit to supporting it.”
Temple has said there are no plans to displace residents, which has been a complaint vocalized at two town halls, one held by a coalition opposed to the stadium, the other held by the university. The complaints range from increased traffic, which residents say would be made worse by the proposed closing of 15th Street between Norris Street and Montgomery Avenue, to excessive trash in the neighborhood.
Clarke remains skeptical that the stadium will create jobs in that area as well. He points to the Liacouras Center, where Temple plays basketball and hosts other events, as an example of the university’s failure to provide jobs for North Philadelphians.
“How many jobs did the local community get at the Liacouras Center?” Clarke asked.