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USF brings back in-person homecoming events in November

The homecoming concert will be held at Lot 35 on Genshaft Drive on Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. and student tickets will be sold at $10. ORACLE PHOTO

Homecoming is less than a month away, and preparations are in full swing to welcome back students and alumni with a long week of events, competitions and games across all three campuses.

Students and alumni will get to celebrate the homecoming festivities in person for the first time since fall 2019. This year’s festivities will arrive slightly later than usual, taking place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 6. Associate Director for the Center for Student Involvement Joshua Wilson said the delay is due to scheduling conflicts with different campus departments as well as the football schedule.

In total, homecoming week will cost $276,752, out of which $58,000 will be allocated for the Kickoff and Stampede Comedy Show and $124,472 for the homecoming concert.

Color the Campus, an event in which students paint the windows of the Marshall Student Center (MSC) and The Fit to showcase their homecoming spirit, will take place Oct. 31 at 3 p.m.

A night of laughs awaits students for the Homecoming Kickoff and Stampede Comedy Show on Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Plaza. The first half of the event will consist of a pep rally featuring the Herd of Thunder, cheerleaders and Rocky the Bull to entertain all attendees. There will also be speeches from USF Interim President Rhea Law, Student Government officials and Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly.

Wilson said a specific capacity for the event hadn’t been set, as of Sept. 24. More information will be announced later in October.

The kickoff will be followed by the Stampede Comedy Show, a one-hour stand-up comedy performance featuring a comedian chosen by the Campus Activities Board. Last year, YouTuber Cody Ko performed live on Microsoft Teams for an audience of 250 people.

The headliner for this year’s Stampede Comedy Show hasn’t been announced yet, pending the finalization of contracts, according to Wilson.

Students will then create teams to participate in the Bull’s World Cup, a weeklong event to collect canned goods and clothing for a social cause, and compete in games for a chance to win prizes.

During Field Night on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m., teams will compete in a tug of war, a soccer tournament and cornhole competitions. Students will also get to showcase their team spirit by creating banners to be hung inside the MSC throughout the week.

Students can expect a night of feeling like royalty at the homecoming ball on Nov. 3 at 8:30. The Tampa Homecoming Royalty will be crowned later in the night, alongside the chosen ones from the St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee campuses.

Unlike previous years, this year’s ball will be outdoors at the NPHC Plaza lawn, according to Wilson. The ball will cost around $17,000.

The homecoming concert will make its comeback this year in person Nov. 4 at 8 p.m., offering students the chance to experience a live outdoor performance at Lot 35, located across the street from Maple Hall on Genshaft Drive. Student tickets will be available for $10, according to Wilson, so additional costs associated with the concert are covered.

Capacity for the concert, Wilson said, will depend on the artist’s contract. In 2019, around 5,000 people attended the homecoming concert featuring rapper Gunna, who was paid $75,000 for his hourlong performance.

“As we settle into the contract and get the final agreement, we will announce to our campus who our special guests will be for this year,” Wilson said.

Carnival rides and food stands will also make a comeback after last year’s attempt to offer an all-virtual experience. The Homecoming Carni-Bull and Talent Showcase will take place Nov. 5 in Lot 35. The event will start at 5 p.m. and run until later in the night.

The Running of the Bulls Parade will take place at 6:30 p.m. The parade will run east on Holly Drive to Genshaft Drive, south to Alumni Drive and west to LeRoy Collins Boulevard. The parade will feature floats from different campus departments and watch parties by the Alumni Association.

Around $58,194 will be allocated for the carnival and $2,943 to the parade.

“We are definitely excited to put on an experience for students,” Wilson said. “We want students to be safe … so we also expect that students wear masks … and we can keep putting on really cool experiences. We hope that they love the events just like we do.”

The carnival and parade will be followed by a men’s soccer match against Temple. The game will be at 7 p.m. at Corbett Stadium and will celebrate seniors during the team’s last regular match of the season.

To close off the week, students and alumni will get to watch the Bulls take on the Houston Cougars on Nov. 6 at Raymond James Stadium. Bulls Blitz will provide free transportation to and from the football game to students. Buses will start leaving the MSC Bus Loop three hours before kickoff, with the last one departing 45 minutes before kickoff.