On-campus stadium should not be USF Athletics’ priority
Rather than politicking and telling students what they want to hear, Student Government (SG) should communicate with USF Athletics about funding projects that will actually help programs thrive.
An on-campus football stadium would be fun, but it’s not what USF football needs right now. Instead, the program needs funding for its indoor practice facility.
One of USF football’s two losses in 2017 was to Houston on Oct. 28. Houston finished construction on its $20 million indoor football facility that same month. The Bulls also lost to in-state rival UCF, which opened its indoor facility in 2005.
USF strives to be a Power-Five team, but currently lacks the facilities to do so. Currently, 62 of 65 Power-Five schools have indoor practice facilities. An indoor practice facility will not automatically make USF a national title contender, but it’s a step in the right direction — more so than an on-campus stadium.
The proposed indoor practice facility costs about $40 million, according to USF. As of February, just $7 million was raised. Instead of implementing a student fee designated to an on-campus stadium, the same type of fee should be used to fund the construction of the proposed facility.
More than just a place to protect USF football practices from stormy conditions, the indoor complex would serve as a recruiting tool. The proposed facility includes meeting rooms, a strength and conditioning facility and a team auditorium with tiered seating.
The indoor practice facility will help the football program grow.
Proponents of the on-campus stadium will point to an increase in revenue from football. According to USA Today, USF Athletics nationally ranked 60th in revenue in 2017.
The Bulls had a net gain of approximately $47 million. UCF ranked 53rd with over $59 million.
Even with an on-campus stadium, an indoor practice facility, an undefeated record and a New Year’s Six Bowl win over Auburn, UCF only bested USF by $12 million — showing that an on-campus stadium doesn’t significantly increase yearly revenue.
Ranking lower than USF was Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
In March, UAB announced a plan for a new stadium and their revenue hasn’t grown past USF’s. FAU has an on-campus stadium and will unveil their own $40 million indoor facility this summer.
FAU’s football stadium opened in 2011 and was met with some of the worst football seasons in the program’s history. The Owls did not record more than six wins in any of the stadium’s first five seasons.
The stadium didn’t have a huge impact on the team and a similar situation would occur in Tampa for the Bulls. Games would be more fun for fans, but the overall product on the field would remain the same. The proposed indoor facility would enable the Bulls to practice more often and effectively.
Fans attend football games because their team is good. If USF continues to be a contender in the Associated Press Top 25 and competes with teams from Power-Five conferences, it will draw fans to games regardless of where they are held.
USF football has the potential to keep improving and the indoor practice facility — not an on-campus stadium — is the way to do that.
Sam Newlon is a junior majoring in mass communications.