Unfiltered: Mayor Iorio verbatim on USF
Just want to give you guys a transcript of Tampa mayor Pam Iorio's comments after this afternoon's meeting with USF and Tampa Sports Authority officials and other local leaders. Iorio was designated to speak on behalf of everyone in the meeting, so Judy Genshaft, Jim Leavitt, Henry Saavedra, Rob Higgins and others weren't allowed to comment to the media. Here you go:
"(This was a very positive) meeting with all the parties involved. Of course, the University of South Florida, and how proud we are of all their football achievements and how far we've come with that program, and of course everyone involved in bringing the ACC football tournament here, which is something we're very pleased with.
"We've had a very positive discussion, and I think what's come out of it is very good news for the University of South Florida for the longterm. We're going to look at the University of South Florida structuring a longterm lease agreement with the Sports Authority that will in the future protect their rights for that first week in December, so that in the future and as this program continues to be probably one of the most successful football programs in the country, we'll be very fortunate that that week will be preserved for future football nights, Thursday nights, ESPN, nationally televised events. That is what we're going to do moving forward.
"We are accepting of the '08 and '09 schedule with the ACC football tournament and recognize that that is something we will go with because that is the arrangement. Our real emphasis today has been on longterm and how the University of South Florida's football program fits into the priorities of this community. It is a large priority of this community, and I think that was accepted by everybody in this room.
"We do congratulate those who put out a big effort to bring the ACC here, the Sports Commission and of course the CVB and the Sports Authority. Bringing large national events to Tampa is something we always want to do. The biggest one we bring of course is the Super Bowl, but there are a lot of other major events that we bring. We appreciate the efforts that were put out, but we also recognize the tremendous growth of the University of South Florida's football program, and the fact that that program needs to be protected in the future. That's going to be our longterm goal."
(Question: "When you say longterm, how many years are they looking at to be locked in at Raymond James Stadium?")
Iorio: "I think that's going to between the University of South Florida and the Sports Authority, but it's going to be longer than their current lease agreement, which is five years."
(Question: "When you talk about that week in December, do you mean including the Saturday of that week, or just the days leading up to that Saturday?")
Iorio: "The Saturday of that week. We're talking about the first week in December."
(Question: "Does this mean the ACC championship will be here in '08 and '09. Is USF still trying to get that Thursday night game, or have they decided they're not going to have it and they'll move on?")
Iorio: "The '08 and '09 is something that has been agreed upon. What we're looking at is beyond that. Past 2009, the priority is going to be the University's football program."
(Question: "Would preserving that week for USF in any way limit the ability for Tampa to get the ACC game beyond, in '12, '13?")
Iorio: "It likely would, and that is one of those tradeoffs, but I think it's a tradeoff this community is willing to make to acknowledge the importance of the University's program. Pleased that we could host the ACC football tournament for two years, but that would not be a tournament we would go after in the future."
(Question: "Do you think USF should have an on-campus stadium?")
Iorio: "I don't think that's a priority of the University. I can't speak for the University. I'm just a Bull fan, but I'm not the president and the board and so forth. They can speak to that. We're fortunate we have a professional NFL football stadium that a college team can play in. That's good for the team. I bet the coach loves it. (Leavitt, in background: "Oh, sure.") The fans love it. What we want to do is maximize the use of this asset we have in the community, which is our Raymond James Stadium. That's one of the points of all this. We need to maximize that."
(Question: "Was there any scenario that would allow USF to get a longterm lease and be able to go after an ACC championship in the future, or it was an either/or?")
Iorio: "I think given the scheduling of the ACC championship and the Big East conference schedule, that the two are, in the longterm, incompatible."
(Question: "Could USF, if they desire, if they want to give up that week somewhere in the future, to allow Tampa to go after the ACC, if they wanted to do that, could they do that?")
Iorio: "They could, but I think the future success of their program will preclude that. They're going to continue to be so successful that they're always going to be wanted by the national television. They're always going to be a game that from now on is sought after at that very last part of the season. That final game is always from now on going to be a very important game, because the USF program has risen to a new level. It's not only going to stay at that level, it's going to rise to even higher level in the future. We all recognize that, and that changes the kinds of other events we go after."
Thoughts? Comments? Questions?