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Next step in USF football’s on-campus stadium saga coming Tuesday

The Bulls are seeking $22 million to design a stadium that will host football ... and maybe a lacrosse final four.
 
This 2022 rendering by OSPORTS shows what USF's athletics district might look like with the addition of an on-campus stadium.
This 2022 rendering by OSPORTS shows what USF's athletics district might look like with the addition of an on-campus stadium. [ Courtesy of USF ]
Published March 6, 2023

The most consequential meeting in USF’s quest to build an on-campus football stadium will take place Tuesday morning at the Marshall Student Center.

The school’s board of trustees will be asked to approve up to $22 million to design a 35,000-seat stadium just north of the football practice fields and indoor practice facility. If approved, the Bulls will formally enter the months-long design stage with project partners Populous and Barton-Malow.

The expectations are high, not just for the football program but for the other team that will use it regularly: the nascent women’s lacrosse team.

“We want it to be a comprehensive facility that we can host final fours in,” coach Mindy McCord said when she announced the program’s first recruiting class in the fall. “That would be a goal.”

Related: A brief history of USF Bulls’ decades-long football stadium saga

It’s a feasible one, too. Last year’s women’s final four sold out Johns Hopkins’ stadium (8,500), while the men’s final four reported an attendance of 22,184 at UConn’s stadium. The next sites for the men’s championships are the homes of the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, though at least one lacrosse website wonders whether it’s better to fill a 30,000-seat stadium than play at a half-empty NFL stadium. Sound familiar?

Even if the proposed stadium doesn’t host national championships, it’s easy to envision it becoming a marquee road trip for teams from the Northeast or Midwest.

“We’re going to be bringing some of the best competition in the country down here because a lot of teams want to play here for spring break,” McCord said in the fall. “They want to get out of the cold. So it’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility …”

USF women’s lacrosse coach Mindy McCord has expressed excitement about the Bulls' recent facilities upgrades, including the indoor practice facility and the planned on-campus stadium.
USF women’s lacrosse coach Mindy McCord has expressed excitement about the Bulls' recent facilities upgrades, including the indoor practice facility and the planned on-campus stadium. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

The details of that state-of-the-art facility will start to crystallize over the next few months as designers meet with stakeholders about the project. There will be “multiple opportunities for the USF community to provide input” along the way, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Some preliminary conversations have already started, and the deeper discussions will be key. What are the specific requests or requirements for first-year football coach Alex Golesh, either in the stadium itself or the football operations center expected to be built into or next to the building?

Some schools that recently built stadiums added meeting spaces, classrooms or, in the case of Colorado State, an alumni center. Does USF need or want anything like that? And what does McCord need as she starts a program from scratch?

Related: What will USF Bulls gain from an on-campus football stadium?

Even though there are no new renderings, let alone shovels in the ground or seats being installed, McCord said the idea of playing at a new stadium (plus starting at Corbett Stadium, which is only 12 years old) appealed to her first recruiting class as the team prepares for its first games in the 2024-25 season.

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“In 2026, we’re going to be able to be in a state-of-the-art, best facility I think in the country,” McCord said. “I think our players are excited to have a first in both of those stadiums.”

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