TAMPA — When first-year USF coach Alex Golesh sits in on meetings about the Bulls’ proposed 35,000-seat on-campus football stadium, he doesn’t always have deep thoughts. The exterior color isn’t high on his priority list yet.
But ask him about the proposed stadium’s football operations piece, and Golesh has plenty to say.
“I know from a football complex what we need, and what we have to do to take the next step,” Golesh said Tuesday, shortly after USF’s board of trustees approved spending up to $22 million to design the stadium.
Football complexes are incorporated into many stadiums across the country. Colorado State built a weight room, plunge pools, meeting rooms and other day-to-day components into Canvas Stadium, which opened in 2017. Missouri added an operations facility to its end zone in 2019, and SMU broke ground on a $100 million, three-story end-zone complex in December.
The Bulls might build an operations center into the stadium, but it’s also easy to envision the facility sandwiched between the stadium and the just-opened indoor practice facility, perhaps connected to both.
Regardless of the specific location, Golesh has several requirements in mind.
“The goal of any football facility when you build it is to encourage the guys to be there the entire day, right?” Golesh said.
That won’t happen unless Golesh creates a culture where players want to keep spending time together before and after practice. But the facilities need to, well, facilitate that, too.
“I think accessibility and ease of getting around,” Golesh said. “I think when things are easy for young people to get to park, to walk in, to eat, recovery, to where they hang out.”
The functional components might include places to sleep (the Gators’ new complex includes zero-gravity chairs for napping), rehabilitation areas, academic rooms, meeting rooms and a nutrition center. To encourage players to stick around, Golesh threw out ideas like a barbershop, bowling alley or arcade.
Aside from making the facility a one-stop shop for players, Golesh envisions it as a selling point for prospects.
“There’s a recruiting side to it that’s got to have some wow and glitz,” Golesh said.
Combine the two — day-to-day functionality and a way to sell the program — and it’s easy to see why Golesh is so invested in this part of the stadium project. He said Tuesday that he’d like to see it come to fruition before the rest of the stadium (which is expected to open in 2026).
Golesh said he and other USF officials will be touring new facilities in the next few months to “really finetune the actual inner workings of it all.”
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