USF moves forward with plans for campus football stadium

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” the university is considering 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 efficiency for a facility that we want to use more than anything else.” 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.

University of South Florida

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An illustration – not an actual rendering – of a proposed football stadium on the USF Tampa campus was used for discussion purposes at a board meeting on December 7, 2021.

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 committee is evaluating five possible locations:

  • Southwest corner of campus near Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Fowler Avenue
  • Intramural fields near the Juniper-Poplar residence
  • Site of the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
  • Fowler Fields, located next to the Patel Center for Global Solutions
  • Sycamore Fields, near the USF athletics district

Four of the sites were named in the feasibility study, while the Sycamore Fields site is currently used for intramural sports.
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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