How Temple University justifies plans for an on-campus football stadium

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Temple University advanced plans for an on-campus football stadium that would be funded partly through the bond market.

Temple president Richard M. Englert announced last week that the university will submit its plans for a new $130 million multipurpose facility that includes a football stadium with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. The move comes two years after the public university's board of trustees approved a $1 million stadium design and environmental impact study on a 35,000 seat stadium financed with a combination of bonding and donations.

After a scare, the final congressional tax overhaul bill signed into law last month preserved the tax-exempt eligibility of stadium finance bonds.

"We have said from the start that our first priority has been to engage with our neighbors and local leaders to determine the potential for, and impact of, this facility," said Englert in a statement. "After more than two years of these discussions, and in light of the project's tremendous value for Temple and North Philadelphia, I have concluded that the time is right to take this step."

Englert said the review determined that a new on-campus stadium would yield “significant” savings compared to Temple continuing to play home games at Lincoln Financial Field, the stadium eight miles from campus that houses the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles. Bonds for the stadium would be backed by funds that would otherwise be paid to rent Lincoln Financial Field. University officials said leadership gifts and naming rights are expected to defray a sizable portion of the facility's costs, but did not detail how much borrowing would be involved.

The proposed stadium site, which would also house new classrooms, research and retail space, is entirely within Temple's existing footprint in North Philadelphia. The only extra landed needed would be closure of 15th Street between Norris Street and Montgomery, according to university officials. The adjacent Amos Recreation Center, which is owned and operated by the city, will remain intact.

Temple’s debt is rated Aa3 by Moody’s Investors Service and A-plus by S&P Global Ratings. Moody’s revised Temple’s outlook to stable from negative last March on $680 million of outstanding revenue bonds issued through Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development and Pennsylvania Higher Educational Facilities Authority citing improved operating performance. The large urban public research university enrolls nearly 40,000 students.

"The opportunity to explore bringing the public, alumni and fans back to campus to experience Temple's continuing transformation is one we can't pass up," Englert said. "I am confident we can design and build a facility that makes sense for Temple and for the community. "

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Higher education bonds Temple University Pennsylvania