Let’s get it started.
For the sake of the fans, it’s time to get the ball rolling on the construction of an on-campus stadium.
From my colleague next to me, you’ll hear a lot about Pittsburgh and how great they are doing with an off-campus stadium.
But this isn’t Pittsburgh.
Schools such as Pittsburgh don’t have much choice in where their games are played. They are located in big cities with little available real estate. But not USF in Temple Terrace: With a little nudging, a stadium could fit just about anywhere. Purchasing and leveling the collective crud-market that is University Mall would present the most ideal location for a possible stadium.
But why are we arguing about this?
Because USF has a glaring problem: It’s missing an identity.
An on-campus stadium would go a long way in giving the University its own identity and help it get rid of the commuter-school label I’m sure few are proud of.
If you can name one “Research One” commuter school then you’re way ahead of me. The key to widespread support of a school is in the school’s alumni, and with the exception of a few thousand die-hards, that support is less than impressive. An on-campus stadium shows a commitment from the school toward building a legitimate bond with the community and current and former students.
I challenge you to name one Top 25 college football program that plays its home games in a professional football stadium. As wonderful as it sounds to play in beautiful Raymond James Stadium, it just doesn’t fit the blueprint of college football success. I’m sure there are other factors, but Boise State is a perfect example of what a unique on-campus stadium can do for a program. Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium, University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, “The Swamp,” and Michigan’s stadium, “The Big House,” are examples of how popular stadiums can become by themselves.
Unlike those college football landmarks, USF will always come second in their stadium. The Tampa Sports Authority will always be concerned with the Bucs before the Bulls. That’s why security tackles fans, only about three USF banners go up on game day, and the attempt to place Bulls’ midfield logo over the Bucs flag is a weak attempt at spirit. Even everyone’s favorite pirate ship makes absolutely no sense to outside observers.
An on-campus stadium would provide some help to area businesses as well. There is no bigger advertising goof than “This is Bulls Country.” It’s always tough to navigate the hoards of Bulls fans and students at University-area bars and restaurants. But seriously, I’m sure the Jerk Hut, Tia’s and Perkins would appreciate nothing more than the influx of 30,000 people that a game would provide.
It’s time to make a change for the better: It’s time to get the funds. I know USF has got a few extra dollars, because every month a new building goes up on campus, and every year more than 7,000 new students enroll at USF. Even if the city of Tampa has to pay a nickel more for their bananas, then so be it. Get the money so USF can stop being a parking lot with classes and make their way to becoming a university with top-tier athletics and academics.Now for my next argument: The virtues of an on-campus Taco Bell.