USF extends Raymond James lease through 2016
USF football has extended its lease with the Tampa Sports Authority to use Raymond James Stadium for home games through the 2016 season.
The Bulls exercised a five-year option that was part of the lease agreement signed in 2007, which expired after the 2011 season. As part of the agreement, USF paid the Tampa Sports Authority $145,000 per game last fall -- more than $1 million in total for its seven home games -- along with a surcharge of up to $2.50 per ticket sold.
The per-game rate increased by $10,000 each year from a start of $105,000 in 2007; as part of the agreement, the rate during the five-year option is to be negotiated "based on the Authority's actual direct costs of operating the stadium." Additional fees must be paid by USF if the stadium's upper level is used -- as it now is with most home games -- or if the game "exceeds the normal time for a USF Game."
USF's average attendance has risen considerably since the agreement was signed five years ago -- the Bulls averaged 30,222 fans in the 2006 season, and have averaged 47,820 over the five seasons since, including 44,550 for the 2011 season.
As was the case with the previous agreement, USF can opt out of the contract so long as the Bulls provide 24 months' notice before the termination date. USF has expressed interest in eventually building an on-campus stadium, but the cost of such a project remains prohibitive right now -- the most recent precedent at the BCS level was the University of Minnesota, which spent $288 million on the stadium it opened in 2009.
USF exercised the option in August 2011, and the Times obtained a copy of the notice sent to the TSA on Thursday. "I look forward to our continued and mutually beneficial partnership," athletic director Doug Woolard wrote in a letter to TSA executive director Eric Hart.