Process started to pay for athletics facility
While playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lee Roy Selmon became involved in the banking industry, and he later built a restaurant bearing his name.
Selmon’s latest project is on a far more grandiose scale than his South Tampa restaurant – and it will cost a lot more money.
As the director for USF athletics, Selmon is busy trying to secure funds for the proposed athletics facility on campus. Selmon estimates the cost of the facility to be in the neighborhood of $13-15 million, and the process of securing the funds is well under way.
“We’re working with our administration and coming up with a financial plan to build a facility, and that is to identify resources to pay back a loan or bond issue,” Selmon said.
A bond issue will be necessary because the entire facility cannot be funded by private donations, which now total roughly $2 million, Selmon said.
“We would like to get as much of that as we possibly can in commitments and pledges because that will be paying down our debt servicing,” Selmon said.
Selmon identified the two main revenue streams for the construction of the facility, besides private donations, as student athletic fees and beverage pouring rights. He said he expects to raise roughly $800,000 from the athletic fee and half of that amount from beverage contracts.
The rest will have to be borrowed.
“We know we’re going in debt, but at the same time, we’re out calling on folks to get involved, to help us bring down that debt,” Selmon said. “So we’re not stopping.”
The athletic fee advisory committee decided to raise the athletic fee by $1 per credit hour for Tampa campus students starting in the fall, while the $10 flat fee remains. Some of the revenue will go to the facility, though student body president Mike Griffin said the main portion of the funds will go toward other departmental costs and will help keep sporting events free for students.
Griffin said he expects students to agree with the fee increase because the facility will be a visible example of the money put to use.
“If there’s any fee increase or any tuition increases, as much as I may disagree with them, as long as they go to a project or a program that students can actually see, and not go to administrative costs, I think that’s a good thing because it goes to the growth of the university,” Griffin said.
Griffin said he has received good and bad feedback from students but added that the students are not asked to bear the brunt of the financial burden.
“We have Division I programs, but we have Division II facilities. And I think that’s a problem,” Griffin said. “And I know that, again, students aren’t totally picking up the bill, which I’ve been pretty big about, and that they’re putting their focus, their emphasis, on private money.”
The original cost has risen with the size of the proposed facility. Selmon said the original plan was for a 60,000-square-foot facility, but the facility will actually be twice that size because it is incorporating more athletic programs and administrative offices.He said the price tag may have risen, but the new design will actually end up being more cost efficient.
“The process of getting it done from a financial standpoint is a little bit different than what we had originally done before,” Selmon said. “This way of doing the building is a little different than the old traditional way, which was the basis upon which we were looking to do it before. And as result, we’ve been experiencing some cost savings on a per-square-foot basis.”
Getting everyone in the department into a central location, and thus increasing the size and cost of the facility, is a necessity, Selmon said.
“We’ll be more efficient operators if we’re more in the same area rather than sporadically spread out all around the campus,” he said. “So this way, we’re all in the same building. Some of my folks are on 56th Street over there. They need to be brought back.”Once all sources of funding are in place, Selmon said he will make a formal announcement. But he is not setting a timeline for that to happen.
“We’ll try to do that as soon as possible. I hate to put a timeline on that,” Selmon said. “The good thing is that we’re in a healthy processing situation right now, putting packages together to demonstrate our ability to pay back debt servicing.”
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The per-credit-hour athletic fee is going up, but only flat-fee money will be used for the facility.
By Grace Agostin
Assistant News Editor
While USF’s new athletic facilities are being built, a portion of the athletic fee charged to students will be used to help pay for them.
Starting in the fall, the per-credit-hour athletic fee will increase $1, making the new fee $8.50 for Tampa campus students. But the $10 flat fee will remain the same.
Barbara Sparks McGlinchy, associate director for Intercollegiate Athletics, said none of the money obtained from the increased per-credit-hour fee will be used for the facilities. Only the flat fee will be used.
The athletic fee advisory committee, comprised of four students and four faculty members, discussed the increase throughout November, and in December the Board of Trustees approved their proposal.
Committee member Sammy Kalmowicz, president for Student Government senate, said the main reason for the fee increase was to pay for the added security needed at football games since Sept. 11.
Kalmowicz said the committee also decided to use some of the money from the fee for USF’s name to be recognized more at football games by providing students with university gear such as mugs.
“At football games, we wanted to get more USF spirit,” Kalmowicz said.
Mike Griffin, student body president and a BOT member, said he was critical when reviewing the fee increase with the trustees because he was concerned whether students would see where their money was going.
Griffin said the athletic events that are provided for students cost money to maintain so an increase was needed. USF students at the other campus will see an increase, as well.
USF’s Lakeland and St. Petersburg campuses will have a 34 cents per-credit-hour increase, and the Sarasota campus will not increase its fee.
Griffin said the reason the increases are smaller is because the campuses argued that athletics take place at the Tampa campus. But Griffin said he had numbers that show students from the surrounding campuses attend USF’s sporting events.
“So you’ve got to pay to play,” Griffin said.
Griffin said the biggest things student will see is the athletic facilities and improvements to athletic fields with the help of the flat fee.
“The fee gives ability to grow and make renovations to the softball and baseball fields,” Griffin said. “Our base (budget) isn’t very sound, so we need to build up that base.”
Junior Billy Scheirer said he doesn’t have a problem paying the fee if it is going to help the football team.
“I know the football team needs a new facility,” Scheirer said. “And if it wants to be a Division I football team, from what I understand, they don’t have much.”
Griffin said he also took a look at the fee increase from a student perspective, and he thought that there should be other sources to help contribute to paying for improvements.
“I try to send the message that we shouldn’t always be the ones to pick up the bill,” Griffin said.
The athletic fee also allows USF students from all campuses to attend athletic events for free.
Yet junior Yohance Simonette said it seems the university is more concerned with athletics than education.
“They’re building a new athletic facility, and I have to take a class in the mall,” Simonette said. “They need to be more concerned with education than the sports.”
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