A brief history of the decades-long Bulls stadium saga

USF’s quest for an on-campus football stadium is expected to continue at Tuesday’s board meeting. An update is on the agenda as an information item – not an action item – after three companies submitted proposals in July to build a 35,000-bed home for the Bulls.

Whatever happens on Tuesday will be the final leg of a saga that has been going on since before the school opened. Here’s an abridged history of USF’s decades-long research, courtesy of the archives of the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, and journals.com:

Related: What will the USF Bulls gain from an on-campus football stadium?

1957 –Three years before USF’s first class, officials discuss a stadium near present-day Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in zoning meetings. However, when student-focused President John S. Allen presented a six-year building plan in December, a stadium was not included.

1958 –Tampa officials suggest a football stadium as part of a sports complex on Dale Mabry Highway. USF’s expected rapid growth and the fact that it “will need a big stadium” in 10 years is a selling point for the community project.

The Tampa Bay Beach and Park Committee came up with an even more radical idea that year: to create a recreation area on Big Island, which is in Old Tampa Bay near the soon-to-open Howard Frankland Bridge. doors. Fill out the island, then add an Olympic-size pool, shuffleboard courts, a bandstand, and a football stadium that could host a bowling game or “perhaps serve as the grounds for the new University of Florida. from South”.

1962-64 – As city officials and consultants consider a site for Tampa Stadium, they discuss USF as an option. Allen, however, is “steadfast” in his opposition to an on-campus stadium.

1965 — Under a letter to the editor on “Viet Nam,” the USF campus edition of the Tampa Times imagines what the school will look like in 1972. One prediction is that students “will have a good view from their dorms of the new Busch Stadium just across Fowler Avenue from the university.

1992 – A 37-member task force determines that football is doable at USF. Proposed steps for Year 1 would include announcing a club team, hiring a coach, and beginning planning for an on-campus stadium.

1995 – As the Bulls head into football, sporting director Paul Griffin acknowledges a stadium was discussed as part of a long-term plan. An idea: a room with 20,000 to 40,000 seats on the site of the football stadium. Other potential homes include just playing in the football stadium, Tampa Stadium, or Thunderdome (now called Tropicana Field).

1998 — While talking about other facilities, Griffin is pessimistic about a stadium because of the cost: “If we had the choice, we would absolutely choose to have a stadium on campus. We had no choice. »

A potential location for an Olympic Stadium was at USF as the state attempted to host the 2012 Summer Games. [ HANDOUT | Times archives ]

1999 –An on-campus stadium is emerging as a potential part of Florida’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics. After the Summer Games, according to the idea, the 75,000-seat stadium would be downsized for the Bulls. President Betty Castor said an on-campus stadium is “not part of my vision” but is open to discussing the idea if “someone wanted to donate it to USF,” the Times reports.

2007 – Although the Bulls agree to stay at Raymond James Stadium for at least five more years, they can terminate the agreement without penalty if they build a stadium on campus, provided they provide two years’ notice. Athletic director Doug Woolard says the idea is “on the radar screen” but behind other projects like new training grounds and a new softball stadium.

The 2008 ACC Championship at Raymond James Stadium led to threats of USF building a stadium on campus.
The 2008 ACC Championship at Raymond James Stadium led to threats of USF building a stadium on campus. [ Times (2008) ]

2008 – President Judy Genshaft is apparently threatening to build a stadium because of a snafu with Raymond James Stadium. The ACC scheduled their championship at Raymond James the first weekend in December, playing a Bulls home game against fellow Big East Rutgers. Genshaft, according to the Tribune, “left voicemail messages for various community leaders threatening to move games to Tropicana Field or build a stadium on campus.”

2014 –Freshman athletic director Mark Harlan announces that USF will begin a formal study of an on-campus stadium. Among his questions: Where will he go, and how much will it cost? “(Once) you have all the information, you ask the question, ‘Is this the best thing for the Bulls?'” Harlan said. “I’m absolutely not saying that’s the case. But let’s dive deep and get some answers.

2015 – The Museum of Science and Industry is considering a move downtown, potentially freeing up a huge lot on Fowler Avenue from the campus. Officials acknowledge that a stadium is an option up for discussion. Speculation continues a year later when MOSI announces its intention to move. County Administrator Mike Merrill’s exasperated response to rumors of a stadium in MOSI’s place: “Oh no.”

The Museum of Science and Industry has been discussed as a potential site for the USF Stadium.
The Museum of Science and Industry has been discussed as a potential site for the USF Stadium. [ Times  ]

2017 – USF publishes a 41-page study of a potential stadium, which could accommodate between 50,000 and 60,000 people and cost around $200 million. “If we had the money today,” said one administrator, “we are still 5 to 7 years away.”

2018 —After obtaining fan feedback from surveys, USF releases a 171-page market and feasibility study. He suggests a 35,000-seat stadium and uses Colorado State’s $240 million Canvas Stadium as a model.

September 8, 2021 –At the groundbreaking ceremony for USF’s indoor training facilities, Chairman of the Board, Will Weatherford, said the school deserved its own stadium. “I’m here to tell you we’re going to do it,” he told the crowd.

8 March – USF recommends Sycamore Fields, an area just north of the team’s current training facilities, as a site for a stadium. The Bulls also announce a $5 million donation from Frank and Carol Morsani to help fund it.

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