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Plans for on-campus stadium prompts concerns and motivation from students

As plans for the on-campus stadium progress, students both critique and praise the project. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Plans for an on-campus stadium have progressed with Sycamore Fields as the recommended location, leaving some students excited for the future of USF Athletics, while others are unsure if it’s needed. 

Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly and Senior Vice President of Advancement and Alumni Affairs Jay Stroman, heads of the on-campus stadium planning committee, presented the location at the March 8 Board of Trustees meeting. They received verbal support from the BOT members, however no decision has been made yet. 

Several students said that they had no preference on whether or not the stadium was built because by the time the construction is finished — currently projected to be 2026 or 2027 — many will have graduated.

Junior biology major Cruz Wood said he had some concerns surrounding the funding being invested in the project. The cost of the stadium is currently estimated to cost up to $300 million, according to Kelly.

Wood said funds should instead be used for essential purposes such as improving housing and dining, while sports is an “extracurricular” outlet for funding. 

“I don’t care about sports, so I don’t care that a stadium is being built,” Wood said. “But I do care about what they aren’t doing in favor of building this stadium.”

The pandemic was another deciding factor against the project due to the crowded nature of sporting events and COVID-19’s contagiousness, Wood said.

These sentiments were echoed by others, including junior theater major Monica Ruiz. Funding large amounts of money for the stadium when Beta Hall regularly deals with broken elevators, washing machines and dryers doesn’t make sense, according to Ruiz.

But others disagreed, viewing the stadium’s construction as an opportunity to bring the spotlight, as well as more funding, to USF. 

Jake Zellak, a senior English education major, said the stadium could also bring more representation to the university. USF is often overlooked in favor of UF and FSU, according to Zellack, and he believes the stadium will attract more recognition and talented teams in the future.

“I personally don’t care that much from a student perspective,” Zellak said. “But the general Florida public doesn’t even know we exist and they love football, so if we get a stadium, hopefully we’ll get a better team and eventually maybe get some recognition.”

Sophomore psychology major Daniel Demarin said the stadium should have been built sooner, citing the university likely has had the resources to do so. 

“It’s definitely going to positively impact the community,” he said. “I think it will bring more school spirit to the school.”

Alumnus Bri Rolon also said a stadium would serve to bring the community closer together and increase school pride. 

“I trust that our board of directors is making the best decisions when it comes to funding,” Rolon said. “I think the on-campus stadium will provide a plethora of financial gain for USF and the city of Tampa.”

The stadium could also present an opportunity to financially benefit USF through its branding and image, he said. 

“It could also drive admissions because it will build the brand of USF Bulls,” he said. “It will be a good call.”