With a slew of marquee college basketball teams scheduled to visit USF, the Bulls could find themselves renting space downtown this season.
According to The Tampa Tribune, officials from the St. Pete Times Forum and USF are discussing the possibility of moving men’s basketball games from the Sun Dome to the Forum.
Money and logistics have been the main focus of the discussions so far. But how do the fans feel?
Brad Meyer, a long-time fan and founder of two popular Bulls fan sites, believes the Bulls belong on campus.
“I think it’s a mistake to get these great teams on our court and move them somewhere else,” said Meyer, the founder of thebullspen.com and southfloridabulls.com. “I think we just need to stay at home.”
Meyer isn’t alone. On the thebullspen.com, a site that allows users to post comments on a variety of USF-related issues, the vast majority of postings disapproved of the idea.
Scheduled to visit Tampa this season are some of the nation’s top teams. Big East opponents like UConn, West Virginia and St. John’s are coming, and a non-conference game against Michigan is tentatively planned to be held downtown.
Meyer, like a lot of fans, is worried that off-campus games will become neutralized.
“It would definitely take away the home-court advantage,” he said.
Forum president Ron Campbell told the Tribune that he would like the Forum to host as many games as possible and USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard has acknowledged the possibility of playing downtown. Neither Campbell nor Woolard could be reached for comment.
Fans have raised the question of whether the 20,500-seat Forum would benefit the University financially because, in the past, USF has had trouble selling out the 10,411-seat Sun Dome. Also, it remains unclear how parking, concessions and ticket revenue will be divided between USF and the Forum.
“A lot of us are concerned about that,” Meyer said. “I’d like to see what the business case would be.”
While most fans are opposed to moving the games from the Sun Dome, supporters do exist. They argue that moving downtown will increase fan base and give USF more exposure as it enters the Big East.
Meyer doesn’t think USF shouldn’t someday use a bigger venue, but stresses that doing so now is premature.
“I think we’d be better suited waiting until we’re bringing 7-, 8-, 9-, 10,000 into the Sun Dome, and then use a larger venue for the showcase games,” he said. “That way it’s filled with USF fans and not the other school.
“Right now I just don’t see a whole lot of benefit.”