The president of the Philadelphia NAACP said Sunday that Temple University should consider building its new football stadium in Rittenhouse Square rather than the North Philadelphia site it has chosen for the project.
"It's not more of a landmark," Rodney Muhammad said of the park, "than many of those homes and those people who have been there 40 and 50 and 60 years in North Central Philadelphia."
Temple's plan to build a 35,000-seat stadium on land it owns in North Philadelphia has riled neighbors, who worry that it would bring trash, congestion and noise while altering the landscape of the community. The development would close 15th Street, a major thoroughfare.
A community meeting hosted by Temple earlier this month, the first the university has held in the two years since it first proposed the stadium, was drowned out by protesters. University officials had previously met privately with select neighbors and groups.
Muhammad, who was joined at a Sunday news conference by other members of a coalition that opposes the stadium plan, said the university not only should have held a community meeting sooner but also should have vetted other locations.
Muhammad said he and others in the coalition are open to alternative locations but suggested Rittenhouse Square because Temple has a Center City campus nearby at 1515 Market St.
"There's space," he said of Rittenhouse. "There is a bustling business district."
He said a stadium would not "alter the character" of the neighborhood any more than it would be "encroaching on the community" in North Philadelphia.
Temple spokesman Ray Betzner, asked about Muhammad's suggestion, reiterated the university's original plan.
"The multipurpose facility, which includes a stadium and retail complex, is proposed for land we own on Main Campus," he said in an email. "Our goal continues to be to engage our neighbors on this and other substantial issues that are important to the residents of North Philadelphia."