University of South Florida discusses plans for campus football stadium

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The University of South Florida is refining a plan to build an on-campus football stadium that would culminate in what the school calls a “long-term vision for the college community.”

The USF football team have played their home games at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, since 1998. The relatively young football program began in 1996.

The USF board discussed the plan in a meeting on Tuesday as it works to determine the scope, location and budget for a stadium on the university’s main campus in Tampa by June 30.

Michael Kelly, vice president of intercollegiate athletics at USF, explained to administrators the various “pros and cons” that the university considers as it considers five possible locations on the 1,500-acre Tampa campus, which already houses 244 university buildings.

“Finding that things are the best thing for the overall experience, to be close to student accommodation, to be the right game day experience and to provide the right day-to-day operational efficiencies for a facility that we want to use far more than anything. obvious six or seven times a year, “Kelly said of the criteria for a potential site,” which will be paramount as we expand the scope of this overall project.

Kelly told administrators that a final financing plan for the stadium will be essential in cementing the timeline for its planned completion and that the new stadiums can cost anywhere from $ 250 million to $ 400 million.

The university has convened a stadium planning committee and contracted with a company to update a market and feasibility study that the school commissioned about four years ago.

Kelly said that if “we take an aggressive track and everything falls into place,” the university could open the stadium to fans by the start of the 2026 football season.

“But obviously so much (is) in the air, and ’27 and ’28 would potentially be in the realm of that mix,” Kelly said.

The project to build a stadium on campus has generated a buzz since Chairman of the Board, Will Weatherford, first announced it publicly in September.

Weatherford, a past president of Florida House, was appointed to USF’s board of directors by Governor Ron DeSantis in January. He told administrators on Tuesday that building a stadium would represent an opportunity to make USF more attractive to students and keep alumni connected to the school.

“The idea behind a stadium on campus is bigger than football. It will definitely have an impact on our football program and what we build there, ”Weatherford said. “But the truth is, the stage is about creating a campus experience. It’s about the students. It’s about giving alumni one more reason to come back and relive this campus with their children and grandchildren.

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