The Bull Bowl? Genshaft Field? The Pasture?
If Bijal Chhadva and Andrew Aubery get their way, all of these could be names for an on-campus football stadium here at USF, but the student population should not get their hopes up of tailgating on Holly Drive. Though USF has no plans to even look into building a stadium — let alone begin construction — the Student Government administration is just trying to spark some preliminary interest in the idea.
“Athletics has no plans for an on-campus stadium due to the very young football team,” Aubery said. “There are no plans for a stadium, but I would like to initiate something to show student interest, because a lot of students this year are complaining we do not have an on-campus stadium.”
According to a Feb. 1 memorandum from Associate Athletic Director Vicki Mitchell to Aubery, the USF Athletic Department has agreed to establish a fund in the USF Foundation for private donations sought by SG in support of a future on-campus football stadium.
“Athletics has just agreed that we can start the fund,” Aubery said. “They are in no way agreeing that a stadium is going to go up on campus or that they are even looking into it.”
Along with insisting that SG does not misrepresent the intentions of the Athletic Department, the seven-point memorandum also makes it clear that the USF Foundation, Inc. will manage and invest all received funds.
Perhaps the most important of the agreed-upon points, however, is the agreement that outlines a timetable of events and what happens to the fund if that timetable is not met.
“If, by July 1, 2015, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has not begun any study of an on-campus stadium, dollars in the Student Stadium Initiative fund my be transferred to the University’s general scholarship fund,” Point 4 of the memorandum stated.
As for what constitutes a study, Aubery did not have any details and Mitchell did not return two phone calls from the Oracle.
Aubery, however, is sure that the Athletic Department will be willing to extend the contract beyond 2015 if enough interest has been shown in the project.
“I think if there is a lot of money in this account, I don’t think that athletics will say, ‘Oh yeah, let’s just move it.’ They will extend the contract,” Aubery said.
Aubery, who plans on using this as a piece of his platform while running for the office of student body president, vows to continue pushing for an on-campus stadium regardless of his position in SG, eventually fishing for big donors.
“It is just a spark, but hopefully it will be a wildfire before ten years,” Aubery said.
Although the prospect of an on-campus stadium seems exciting, some student responses to the idea were mixed.
“What do we have, 5,000 students on campus? I don’t think that even half of them attend the games at Raymond James just because of transportation,” marketing major Nick Derise said. “It would increase school morale, you know, brand equity and brand identity — you are not a real Division-I school until you have an on-campus stadium.”
Opposite that is another student who is against the idea due to the comforts that Raymond James provides to the USF student population.
“I like Raymond James. I think it is a blast,” graduate student Craig Ajmo said. “(The fans) can drink there and everything. It’s a little more accommodating — you don’t have to stand the whole time because they have the seats and everything, so I dig (Raymond James).”
And according to yet another student, class earns you a stadium, and USF’s football does not have enough points in that area as of yet.
“If the team comes up with a little bit of integrity, I think they deserve it. When I started going here they had class,” biomedical science major Sarah Ford said. “To be honest with you, I think they are a bunch of thugs. In my opinion, they are not very nice, they are not very classy and the staff is wonderful. We just have to instill some tradition, I think. (The students) deserve an on-campus stadium, (the football team) does not. Not yet.”