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Could USF indoor practice facility come sooner rather than later?

Charlie Strong said he believes steps to building the facility right away are ‘in the making."
Raymond James Stadium slowly fills up Friday before USF's game against Wisconsin. The contest was delayed nearly an hour due to lightning in the area, perpetuating a trend of nasty local weather since the Bulls started preseason camp. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Raymond James Stadium slowly fills up Friday before USF's game against Wisconsin. The contest was delayed nearly an hour due to lightning in the area, perpetuating a trend of nasty local weather since the Bulls started preseason camp. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times] [ ALLIE GOULDING | Times ]
Published Sep. 2, 2019

TAMPA ― Long before Wisconsin disrupted USF in every phase Friday, the weather had done the same to the Bulls throughout preseason camp.

As a result, USF might ― might ― consider expediting the construction of an indoor practice facility.

Responding to a question about the facility at his weekly press conference Monday, coach Charlie Strong said he believes some conversations will take place about building it right away as the initial phase of the $40 million USF Football Center.

“I think that’s in the making,” he said.

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To this point, administrators have remained staunch on building the center ― which also would include locker rooms, a weight room, coaches offices and a players lounge ― all at once.

But from a meteorological standpoint, the 2019 camp has been the most burdensome in recent memory.

USF tried to stage an evening practice on Aug. 23, but weather delays kept the team on the field until 10:45 p.m. An Aug. 17 practice was moved to the Advent Health Training Center ― the Bucs indoor facility ― due to inclement weather.

Even the first practice of preseason camp was moved from evening to morning. Strong said if bad weather is forecast Tuesday or Wednesday, the team possibly could use the Bucs facility again, though players are slated to resume their afternoon-heavy class schedules on Wednesday.

“But I think (going ahead with the indoor facility) is in the plans now, and you’re right, we need to get that done,” Strong said.

“Because even last week, we had a day out there where it just poured. We have a tent out there, so we went under the tent for a few minutes until it passed, and then we went back out and went to work.”

Athletic director Michael Kelly said Monday he’s “certainly open-minded” to conversations about going ahead with the indoor facility. Kelly indicated earlier this summer more than $20 million ― half the initial price tag ― has been committed to the USF Football Center.

“But I wouldn’t label it as ‘trending toward,’” he said. “I would label it as considering or evaluating if we should phase it that way.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.