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USF cuts proverbial ribbon on indoor performance facility

Over 500 donors helped raise the money needed to build the $22 million facility – the largest amount of money put together for one building in the university’s history. ORACLE PHOTO/ULIANA LEARNED

Despite USF football already making use of it at the end of last season, USF Athletics opened its $22 million indoor performance facility to the public and other athletic programs in an official ceremony on Tuesday.

Named after its largest donor of $5.1 million, the 88,000-square-foot Porter Family Indoor Performance Facility broke ground in September 2021 and completed construction in November.

Some amenities in the facility include a 100-yard football field named “Savage Field,” an observation deck, scoreboards, weather simulation and video work area.

Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly has overseen the development of the practice facility since its inception. He and his wife have donated over $10,000 to the building fund.

Kelly said the building process was inspired by other elite facilities around the country.

“We raised enough money to do it the right way,” he said. “Some facilities sometimes do not have full-length fields. They do not have the right space on the end somewhere. They’re not air-conditioned. We were able to kind of take the best of everything we saw around the country and build our own, so it’s gonna be great for our football program.”

“So it’s very gratifying and I’m excited to see so many student-athletes here to see it firsthand today.”

The ceremony, which began at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, also featured speeches from coaches and players from other athletic teams. ORACLE PHOTO/ULIANA LEARNED

President Rhea Law spoke optimistically about the vision USF has to instill a strong athletic culture into the university.

“People are beginning to see things happening. They’re beginning to see the investments that we’re making in athletics. They’re beginning to see what coach Golesh brings to the table and they’re beginning to see the opportunities for all of our student-athletes,” Law said.

“So this is just a great start in 2023. 2023 is going to be epic and this is just the beginning.”

Newly minted football coach Alex Golesh is no stranger to elite practice facilities. He recently departed from the University of Tennessee, which announced a $30 million expansion of its football facility back in 2021.

Golesh said he was excited about how the facility could help reduce player exhaustion and burn out over the course of the season due to dealing with outside weather conditions.

He said the new facility could also aid USF with attracting strong recruits in the future.

“I think it’s as nice as any that I’ve been in. I think from a functionality standpoint – from location to how it feels right now – it is beautiful. It’s everything you need,” Golesh said

“From a space standpoint, I think it’ll be huge in recruiting, being able to have somewhere to watch practice that you’re not in the way. I think it’s perfect.”

Adding a practice facility is merely the start of USF’s plan to invest more resources into its athletic programs. The next step of this initiative is to begin the process of building an on-campus stadium.

This year will be spent discussing the physical design plans for the stadium. Kelly said he is currently getting input from many sports programs, such as football and lacrosse, in preliminary meetings and making decisions on the stadium’s design based on those opinions.

“That’s what the design-build process allows you to do. You get your teeth into designing it, keep it moving forward and it allows you to keep making progress when you get to an ultimate decision on how much [money you can allocate for the budget],” Kelly said.

“You need to design it to be successful and to be elite and that’s what we’re trying to do.”