USF's new facilities: How much? How soon?
With news Monday that USF has started the process of taking proposals for the design and construction of key facilities in an upgraded Bulls athletic district, two obvious questions emerge: How much will it all cost? And how soon can the work be completed?
USF officials are quick to stress that there isn't a firm answer for either, and won't be until near the end of this year, when USF has chosen a design-build team and refined its plans for new baseball and softball stadiums, as well as a basketball practice facility and new football practice fields.
Having said that, USF executive athletic director Bill McGillis said Monday that the Bulls have commitments for about $11 million toward the facility upgrades, and will make room in the school's future athletic budgets to pay toward the debt service from bonds to pay for the rest of the building costs. Without the benefit of consulting with the design-build teams that will carry out USF's plans, the preliminary construction estimates for all four (baseball, softball, basketball, football) would be in the neighborhood of $20 million or more.
How soon, you ask? The deadline for bid proposals from design-build teams is Aug. 26, and it's reasonable that USF would select a group or groups to handle the new facilities within two months of that date. From there, USF would refine its plans for each facility with its design-build team, and then onto construction.
"It's too early in the process to know when it's going to be feasible to put a shovel in the ground," McGillis said.
It's reasonable, from a distance, to think construction on baseball and softball could start after the 2010 seasons, in May or June of next year, and with a quick turnaround, the Bulls could potentially be in their new homes by 2011. Stan Heath and Jose Fernandez wouldn't be reaching if they told high school recruits that a new practice facility should be built during their time at USF. And by the time quarterback B.J. Daniels is a senior -- maybe even sooner -- he might not have to walk so far to get to and from practice each day.
USF hasn't committed to any timetable, other than to take a long-awaited step forward toward the facility upgrades the Bulls say they need to compete at a high level in the Big East. Soccer and tennis facilities are also in their plans, as well as Sun Dome renovations. Again, USF is reiterating that it's a long process, taken one step at a time.