On-campus USF football stadium is a vision, not yet a plan for new school president

“There’s hope, and I can see value in it,” Steve Currall says of an on-campus stadium. But it doesn’t sound like leaving Raymond James Stadium is a top priority either.
A rendering of what a football stadium at USF could look like. [Courtesy of USF]
A rendering of what a football stadium at USF could look like. [Courtesy of USF]
Published July 8, 2019|Updated July 8, 2019

New USF president Steve Currall said an on-campus football stadium remains a vision for the Bulls, but it’s still unclear when that vision can begin coming closer to reality.

“It’s a vision, there’s not a plan right now,” Currall told our Megan Reeves last week as he neared the end of his first official week on the job.

An on-campus football stadium has been talked about at USF for years. The Bulls released a 171-page study last July about the feasibility of a potential 35,000-seat stadium, but the athletic department views a football center as a higher priority.

Related: FROM THE ARCHIVES: USF releases findings of on-campus stadium feasibility study

Currall knows what an on-campus stadium can deliver; his house was about 70 yards away from SMU’s stadium at his last job.

“So I’ve seen the value of that for building community and student spirit and connecting with alumni…” Currall told Reeves. “There’s hope, and I can see value in it.”

But it doesn’t sound as if a new stadium is Currall’s top priority, either.

He said USF has a “pretty good arrangement” playing at Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls’ averaged an announced attendance of 38,517, which ranked second in the AAC (behind only UCF). That’s up 22 percent from 2017 and was the third largest jump of any school in the nation, according to the NCAA.

And then there’s the money. Colorado State recently built a new stadium for more than $200 million.

“It raises a big resource allocation consideration and so I would hope someday that we'd be in a position to do that,” Currall said. “I'm very mindful, full of scholarships for students from modest socioeconomic backgrounds and faculty support and faculty salaries. And there's a lot of very important academic priorities that we have. But we it's not a black and white, either or. It's all of the above, and we'll just have to balance those in the future.”

Aside from the stadium, Currall said he expects to remain very involved in athletics, including making some road trips with teams. He said the Bulls will “continue to be aggressive and raising more philanthropic support” and, of course, trying to get the most from media rights deals.

Related: MORE USF: The new USF president is here — and he brought ideas

“I was just talking to the commissioner of the AAC (last week) on the phone about a number of topics, but they all always involve TV rights,” Currall said. “And that, frankly, has a big financial impact.”