It looks as if USF will be playing its home football games at Raymond James Stadium for at least the next five years.
USF and the Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) have agreed in principle to a five-year deal with another five-year option that could have the Bulls sharing a home with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers until 2016. This, however, does not prevent the school from building an on-campus stadium in the near future. There is a clause in the deal that states USF can terminate its agreement without any penalty as long as there is a two-year notice. USF will have to pay a $105,000 licensing fee that increases $10,000 every year until the end of the contract.
Raymond James Stadium is a beautiful venue. If it is good enough for the Buccaneers, then it should be more than adequate for a college team, right? Wrong.
USF has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years in both athletics and academics. The Bulls’ football program is on the rise and the school is one of three top-tier schools in Florida, according to the Carnegie Foundation. The Bulls need a place to call their own.
The estimated cost of the new University of Central Florida stadium is $60 million, which would probably parallel USF’s potential cost. A stadium may come with a hefty price tag, but it would be nothing in comparison to providing the Bulls with an even greater home field advantage than Raymond James Stadium can provide.
The way the program is going, USF plans to be near the top for many years to come. The school will more than make up their momentary loss in ticket sales, endorsements, and concessions.
USF’s campus wouldn’t even have to make room for a stadium. One rumor has the school buying University Square Mall and considering making it the new home for the football team.
Building a stadium there would mean parking problems wouldn’t ensue on campus. Also, it’d significantly reduce students’ travel time to the games.
A stadium built closer to campus would easily provide a spike in attendance for football games.
Not only that, but a campus stadium can bring the kind of pride and accomplishment that students and alumni of the University of Florida and Florida State University possess.
Continuing to play home games at Raymond James shows the student body and the public that we lack the desire to make our football program one-of-a-kind. We do not have an identity there.
When Buccaneers fans sit in the seats, they don’t see any indication that the USF Bulls also call Raymond James Stadium home. Every week, the field is wiped clean of any trace of the Bulls. There are no Bull horns in the seats. There is no USF symbol on the 50-yard line or name in the end zone. You walk into Raymond James and see a large boat and a sea of red.
The success of the football program calls on the school board to create this venue for students and fans. They need a stadium that isn’t associated with anyone but the Bulls. They need a venue that is blanketed with green and gold.