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Facility design still a mystery

An original plan for a new athletic facility, nearly half the size of the one being proposed, sits in the Physical Education Building, now outdated.

For more than five years the idea for a new facility was tossed around from advisory boards to trustee meetings to alumni cocktail parties. However, now with the Board of Trustees’ approval and administration backing, the athletics facility is drawing closer to breaking ground. The only mystery: what will the facility look like?

The conundrum within that mystery is the design of the structure hasn’t been decided. The powers that be have said go ahead and build the facility for the betterment of the university, but the ins and outs have yet to be established. Deputy Athletics Director Corey Johnson, the university has theoretical ideas of what the building should contain, including rough estimates of square footage, however, the actual structure will be designed by the contracted builders.

Johnson said the original plan for the building had a basic structural design and an idea of what the facility would house, but that has been drastically updated to include more athletic programs and more tools to benefit student athletics.

“Instead of continuing with the old project, we basically started from scratch,” Johnson said. “The conclusion was that the best way to pursue this was a design and build concept.”

The bids to design the athletics facility, 13 in total, came from design and architectural firms in and out of the Tampa area. Although no names have been announced, the bids were due by March 25. Johnson said design, architecture and building companies combined into teams and presented a group proposal.

“Those 13 brochures (turned in) are proposals to meet the qualifications to build this facility,” Johnson said. “That includes architecture and design. We gave them a prospective of the building that we are thinking of, which is about 109,000 square-feet in the range of $15 million.”

Johnson said the facility will bring new esteem to the university’s athletic programs.

“I think that this university has clearly outlined that athletics is an important part of the institution,” Johnson said. “It’s not bigger than the institution, but it has a significant role in the exposure, in the recruitment and retention (of student athletes). I think the visibility that the facility will bring us only enhances (the university) more.”

A major focus of the facility will be to house all sports programs so that each has the opportunity to interact.

“This is a chance to have coaches to intermingle, talk to each other and support each other,” he said. “One of the short falls we currently have is that we are so spread out, coaches don’t have the opportunity to know and support each other in a day-to-day situation.”

The facility will also house classrooms and bring the programs that help student athletes with their academic pursuits under the same roof where they train for their athletic endeavors. The building will house the university’s hall of fame, along with meeting and film rooms. The facility will also house training and rehabilitation professionals, so that everything needed to help the university’s athletic programs has seemingly been planned for.Johnson said that the facility will serve as a statement to would-be student athletes that USF is committed to equaling, if not surpassing, the facilities offered by other Division I programs.

“I believe the minute we turn the ground, that becomes an instant to rally around,” Johnson said. “I think it gives something positive to everybody and every program. With most young (student athletes) getting four or five visits as part of their selection process, we want to be one of the five. I think this will do that.”

Contact Jarrett Guthrieat