First look: New USF soccer stadium renderings
USF's men's soccer team hosts the preseason No. 1 team in the country in top-ranked Akron on Saturday night, and as Bulls coach George Kiefer talked about the upcoming match, he also was able to share his first thoughts about the new soccer-specific stadium that will be built over the next year to debut as the Bulls' home in 2011.
"I think we can put the key in the door next August and the place is going to be packed," Kiefer said Thursday. "It's going to be jumping, and it could even be tough to get a ticket, which is nice for soccer."
USF also released the first renderings of what the stadium, built directly east of USF's main athletic facility, will look like. It will seat 2,000, with room for temporary seating in the postseason and potential expansion down the road, with a bowl-style field dug into the ground and berm seating to bring fans much closer to the action than in USF's current facility, which has a track separating the crowd from the playing field.
"Everybody will be on top of the game," said Kiefer, who said the arena has "an English feel" to it. "We wanted to get the fans as close as possible. ... You can touch the players. You're that close to them. This will be one of the best facilities in the country for college soccer, and I say that having thought about that a lot. It will be one of the best."
USF women's coach Denise Schilte-Brown, whose team is playing Friday afternoon at Murray State, said she was thrilled to have soccer included among the Bulls' wide-ranging plan of facility upgrades, which also include new stadiums for baseball and soccer, practice fields for football and a new practice facility for basketball.
"I love that USF has been caring of their sports. I felt honored to be included," Schilte-Brown said. "I love the design, I love the size, I love the location. The bowl effect, it feels real quaint, like there's nowhere else to go. When you're in there, it's so cool, because you know that this is where your attention is going to be."
The close quarters with fans close to players reminded Schilte-Brown of USF volleyball matches in the Corral in the Sun Dome, where a packed crowd can be more of an advantage than a larger crowd thinned out in a much larger arena.
Kiefer said the field is in the same model as ones for national powers like Connecticut, Maryland and Akron, but Schilte-Brown said she was reminded of a trip to Pocatello, Idaho, when she interviewed for the head coaching job at Idaho State, back before she came to USF. The school was so proud of its stadium that it had a buzz of its own and brought even more attention to the program, she said, and she hopes USF's new stadium will have the same effect next fall.