TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The USF plan to build the school’s first on-campus stadium got a $5 million dollar gift from philanthropists Jeff and Penny Vinik, the school announced Wednesday.

Vinik, who is also the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, called an on-campus stadium a “game-changer, literally and figuratively” for USF and the community as a whole.

“I have been following the stadium developments, including the site selection, with great interest,” Vinik said. “The Bolts enjoy the best fan and community support in the NHL, and in just a few short years, the Bulls will experience that in a completely new way in their campus home.”

It’s the latest in many efforts by the couple to support USF. In a release, the school said they were instrumental in the expansion of USF Health in Water Street Tampa. They’re also the namesake of the Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program in the school’s college of business.

“Their vision and investment have helped transform downtown Tampa, the Tampa Bay Lightning organization and our entire region, including numerous programs at USF,” USF President Rhea Law said. “We thank Jeff and Penny for their continued support of the university.” 

The committee in charge of the stadium’s development officially recommended the Sycamore Fields site on the east side of the Tampa campus last month. The stadium is projected to be completed in 2026 or 2027.

They’re the second couple to make a $5 million contribution to the project. The first was longtime USF supporters Carol and Frank Morsani who did it following the site recommendation.