Earlier this month, I walked around the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot before Temple's game against Tulane, asking the Owls faithful whether they wanted an on-campus stadium or to stay at the Linc.
I was surprised by how many - almost all - liked the idea of a campus stadium. Talking to season-ticket holders, parents of players, and former players, I found plenty of uniformity in their opinions.
However . . .
They diverged on sub-issues. On parking, for instance. Many agreed that is a tough obstacle on Temple's campus - "That's the tricky part," one man said. They were tailgating when I talked to them. They didn't want to lose that experience.
I also asked whether they would contribute to this new stadium, and got mostly hemming and hawing and plenty of noninterest in paying extra to take the Owls back to campus.
Let's point out the obvious: The Linc is a big-time place, hardly a recruiting disadvantage. Yes, the rent is steep, but it would take a lot of years for it to add up to $100 million or more, the cost of a new place. (We understand bonds would be raised, that ownership is different from renting, etc.)
Last week, The Inquirer's Marc Narducci talked to Temple board of trustees chairman Patrick O'Connor, who told him: "We are moving forward and exploring every option." Those options, by the way, include putting a roof over the current practice facility. Temple president Neil D. Theobald told Inquirer reporter Susan Snyder that three-quarters of the funding is lined up.
It's been clear that Theobald has been intrigued by having a stadium since he arrived on campus in 2013. I sat in Theobald's office that year and he told me, "Every university wants an on-campus stadium."
This is obviously part of Theobald's continued efforts to make Temple very much a residential university. But there are some questions for Theobald:
• Where will the parking be to satisfy Temple's vision of a 35,000-seat stadium? What alternatives would you propose for pre- and postgame experiences if parking is mostly in garages?
• What about big games? Do you think the Eagles will let you use the Linc whenever you need it? Would this Notre Dame game next Saturday night even have happened if you already had an on-campus stadium? What will those future negotiations with the Eagles over single games sound like? Wouldn't such triangular negotiations get terribly complicated?
• If you hope to make yourself viable for selection to a Power 5 conference such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, is 35,000 big enough? The only ACC schools with stadiums under 40,000 are Duke and Wake Forest, and they are original members. The next smallest is Boston College at 44,500.
• In other words, would the footprint allow for expansion? And if it grows, does that defeat the purpose of going smaller, of making a better game experience?
• Are you nervous that the Liacouras Center hasn't typically been full for even big basketball games?
• You can get 30,000 people into the Linc this season, but have you studied the average attendance if the team struggles, since this is a multi-decade decision?
• If there is public money as part of this, as Theobald hopes and suggested, is this the right use of state money? Wasn't the Linc built with public funds with the idea that Temple would use it? Even though Temple didn't get that money, should taxpayers be on the hook for more?
• What's the neighborhood impact? You're talking four times as many people showing up as for a basketball game.
O'Connor made it clear fund-raising discussions had included "some seven-figure commitments," which means Temple may not have to go the way of personal-seat licenses, that it won't be hitting up everyone for money. Or will it?
"This wouldn't just be a football stadium that gets used six times a year and just sits there the rest of the time," Theobald told me in 2013.
Maybe so, but this is all about football. The Owls are in the big time this week, on network national television Saturday against Notre Dame. Did any of us see this day coming? So excuse us our cloudy vision about the future after this current circus leaves town.