Student fee to possibly fund on-campus football stadium

A visual rendering of a potential on-campus stadium released by USF on Aug. 8. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF ATHLETICS

Student Body President Moneer Kheireddine said student fees could be used to fund an on-campus football stadium during his State of the Student Body Address on Wednesday.

Kheireddine said the potential fee could range between $30 and $80 a semester per student. He also noted that Student Government (SG) could not change student fees without a vote by the student body and that any statement regarding student fees to fund a stadium is currently hypothetical.

“I’m working alongside several senators to ensure that we connect with USF athletics and begin a dialogue on what Student Government is capable of doing in contribution to the stadium,” Kheireddine said. “One possible way is to ask, through a referendum of our student body, whether or not our student body would like to see a fee increase of a simple one time per semester fee.

“If students vote on it and are in support of it, we would actually be able to implement that fee, which would be paid for the next few years by our students every semester.”

When USF announced it was exploring the possibility of building a proposed $200 million on-campus football stadium on Aug. 8, director of athletics Mark Harlan said student funds could be used to fund the project. 

Kheireddine’s answer, which came in response to a question asked during a Q&A session at the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater, was the first public statement from SG about the possibility of student fees being used.

“After doing some research, we’ve found that multiple institutions across the nation have their student governments have an active voice and active part in the creation of a stadium,” Kheireddine said. “There is a strong possibility that Student Government will have a very large hand in the creation of an on-campus stadium.”

A USA Today report indicated more than $17 million, which is around 36 percent of USF’s total athletic revenue, came from student fees in 2016. 

Some of the potential locations for the on-campus stadium include the Fowler Fields, as well as the current location of the Museum of Science and Industry. In the Aug. 8 announcement of the potential stadium, USF’s vice president for administrative services Calvin Williams said the stadium’s construction would be at least five years away.

“If we had the dollars today,” Williams said. “We’re still five to seven years out.”

In a phone interview with The Oracle on Wednesday night, Kheireddine said the fee-range of between $30 and $80 was calculated by “long-term goals.”

“It’s something students have been asking for, for a long, long time,” Kheireddine said. “We looked at what would be the average cost to our students in order to ensure we could pay off the cost for a stadium.”

The fee would allow USF to receive funding from the state ahead of time to complete the construction of the stadium. However, the hypothetical student fee would have to be paid by students for years after the stadium’s completion in order to pay the state back. 

“We’d have to pay the funds back over a series of years,” Kheireddine said. “Students for the next five, 10, 15 years would be paying back this fee. The fee would go away, but the stadium would stay.”