On Tuesday morning USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan and USF Vice President of Administrative Services Calvin Williams released the results of a feasibility study regarding an on-campus football stadium.
The study involved assistance from The Beck Group, who joined USF in November 2016 for the conceptual planning of a new 40,000-50,000 seat football stadium.
“Within that plan we talked about studying the likelihood, as such the feasbility, of an on-campus football stadium,” said Harlan. “We looked at where would the stadium go within our campus and what would it entail, how much do we believe it would cost.”
The study looked at four potential sites and after evaluation it was determined that two “zones” would be studied further.
The two zones exhibited unique characteristics for potental impacts to existing land use, parking availability, and campus connectivity. Both zones front Fowler Avenue, on the east end of campus and the other on the west.
Zone 1 had a better connection to the heart of campus and had strong visibility and branding potential. The zone also had the greatest number of parking spaces within a 15-minute walk of the stadium. While facing Fowler Avenue, this site also exhibits easy access from Bruce B Downs and Fletcher.
Zone 2 also had a lot of positive traits. The area offers easy connectivity to the athletic zone on campus. Possible parking improvements for the stadium could also aid the Sun Dome and infrastructure of the athletic village. However, zone 2 is much smaller than zone 1 but could dominate in street presence. The zone is facing Fowler Avenue and runs along USF Bull Run Drive.
“What we have for everybody to look at today is the where and what,” said Harlan.
While all potential sites mentioned in the study are located on USF campus, Williams said MOSI was also looked at.
“Initially when we looked at locations both on and off campus, we looked at MOSI. We looked at a number of different areas,” said Williams. “Based upon the criteria, right now MOSI doesn’t belong to the University of South Florida, it belongs to Hillsborough County, so obviously one of the focuses was we want to look at those zones that we (USF) controls.”
The criteria for this particular study, which cost $75,000, also focuses on the access to roads, parking, and campus connectivity.
“When we were looking at the scope and the cost associated with it (the stadium) we went on and looked at approximately 14 stadiums,” said Williams. “We were trying to get a perspective of what would work best for the University of South Florida.”
Fan experience was a major focus for The Beck Group in this study. With that said the cost of the projected stadium is $200 million, which involves fan experience regarding structure, maintenance, and long-term cost.
Harlan, the athletic department, and The Beck Group used Colorado State University’s new on-campus stadium as a model. CSU’s Stadium started construction in 2015 and is set to open this year.
“If we had the dollars today, we’re still 5-7 years out,” said Williams, who is also a civil engineer.
“This is the first step of many steps,” remarked Harlan.
Up next for the on-campus stadium project is to spend time with the board of trustees and develop a financial strategy along with a feasible amount from a fundraiser perspective.
“No education or general state funds will be used to fund this project,” said Williams.
But Harlan did state that student fees are still on the table. He said student engagement is a big part of this project and students fees involvement will be discussed.
Alongside talking with students, Harlan said discussion with the Buccaneers and Tampa Sports Authority has helped this study.
Back in January USF extended its lease deal with Raymond James Stadium. Harlan said there is a 24-month out for USF with the recently renewed lease.
Another worry that surfaced with this study is the status of an indoor practice facility for USF football.
“We are absolutely committed to building an indoor practice facility and moving our football program forward,” said Harlan.
Moral of the story: USF is exploring on-campus stadium options but it’s still very early in the process so only time will tell.
Stadium Side Notes:
- 40,000 seats with expansion potential to 50,000 seats.
- Mixed-use facility and conference center consisting of 200 rooms with 10,000 sf of convention space.
- “Bulls Zone” is a connection to tailgating and fan experience.
- 2,000 club seats.
- 20-26 suites and 4-6 founders suites.
- 50′ x 100′ HD video board.