TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The University of South Florida took another step toward finally getting an on-campus stadium, as the committee in charge of its development narrowed down the list of recommended building sites to one.
The Sycamore Fields site on the east side of the Tampa campus was the one presented for further study in a presentation to the Board of Trustees on Tuesday. The 27-acre site is currently being used for intramural sports.
“The impact of the University of South Florida’s on-campus stadium will be transformational in ways that extend well beyond football,” USF President Rhea Law said. “Choosing a location with strong connectivity to other important areas on campus supports our vision for a project that helps drive the overall university experience. Our recommended site will give students, faculty, staff, alumni and the surrounding communities a place to come together, develop stronger relationships and build memories across generations.”
The committee listed 10 advantages for building at that location, by far the most of any of the sites considered. Some of those included its close proximity to the USF Athletic Village and student housing, the many tailgating options, adjacency to future development and the site’s topography allowing for a recessed field.
The only two disadvantages presented were that it’s not a prominent location on campus and that the school will need to find a new place for the intramural fields.
In total, four other sites were considered, but ultimately determined not to be feasible for a number of reasons.
The Bulls currently play at Raymond James Stadium, the same stadium as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Its capacity is 65,890. USF has not averaged more than 40,000 fans per home game since 2012.
The school also announced a $5 million gift to the stadium project from Frank and Carol Morsani, who have made contributions to both academics and athletics projects in the past.
“We have loved watching Bulls football for the last 25 years and are thrilled to make the first gift in support of the stadium,” they said. “An on-campus stadium elevates not only our athletic programs, but our entire university. We look forward to others joining us in making a financial commitment that will help make this project a reality.”
The earliest construction would start is mid-2024, with possible completion dates in 2026 and 2027.
The committee will go back to the BOT at a later date, once further studies have been conducted on a number of factors including traffic flow and land assessment.
Sana Lobianco owns Smoking Hot Inc., two miles away from the recommended site. She says a football stadium is a plus for businesses, but traffic is already a concern.
“If you bring the stadium it’ll be an issue with the traffic for sure,” Lobianco said. “The only problem I see in this area it can get hectic because there’s a lot of speeders.”
Ray Hanford is on the rugby team. He’s not a huge fan of where the stadium would go.
“Maybe not right here at Sycamore Fields because this is where I practice,” Hanfor said.