Students offer voice in on-campus stadium planning

USF director of athletics Michael Kelly said the stadium will hopefully reach a broad audience of USF fans. ORACLE PHOTO/CARSEN FRASER

Select students were invited to a listening session on Tuesday to share their ideas and learn more about the plans for the on-campus stadium.

Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly did not announce an exact date of when the construction will start but he said this is a critical time in the year-long process of designing the stadium before construction begins, which has not been specified.

In March, the USF Board of Trustees approved advancing to the design phase for the stadium. The board’s decision authorized up to $22 million for the design of a stadium.

Currently, the location for the stadium will be at Sycamore fields which is near the Porter Family Indoor Practice Facility. Sycamore fields was home to USF’s first football team 26 years ago.

This stadium is meant to bring together the community of South Florida. Kelly said his plan is to make a stadium fit the needs of students, alumni and loyal fans.

“The stadium will be for USF, by USF,” Kelly said.

Students at the event voiced the need for a well-organized student section. They said there should be less seats and the stands in the student section should be made for standing and cheering on USF’s teams.

“It’s been hard when there’s seats by us because we are trying to stand and somebody is encouraged to sit down in the front row or we are trying to make noise off the front railing and so we are inspired by Orlando city soccer with their supported standing,” student said.

Food and drink prices at Raymond James stadium received complaints. Kelly’s response proposed an idea to try and make buying snacks and refreshments more convenient for students.

“I imagine having the ability to use your swipe card,” Kelly said.

Discounts may also be offered to students to try and draw a large crowd to the stadium. Kelly said there will be flexibility since USF would own the stadium.

Different vendors were mentioned by students because the final ideas for food are still up in the air. Students suggested rotating vendors so fans don’t get bored of the same foods each game. Kelly spoke about some faculty wanting a year round restaurant.

Ideas of the restaurant sparked the thought of having watch parties in the restaurant that would let fans root for their teams even when games are away.

For tailgating purposes, Kelly plans on using the natural land, such as the Greek fields, to allow students and alumni to prepare for the game. Students also brought up the need to utilize the Bull Runner to help transport fans back and forth from different lots on campus to the games.

Many students highlighted the diversity among USF and the importance of making the community inclusive. Kelly said USF Athletics is also a diverse community and the new stadium allows an opportunity to include everyone.

“With our 450 student athletes, we represent 42 different countries, I have students from 42 different countries just from that small sample of our overall student population,” Kelly said.

It was also mentioned the importance of finding new ways to encourage students from other countries and others unfamiliar with football to enjoy the game day atmosphere. It was proposed to have a few days per semester to let students learn the sport or use the stadium to host events about sports from other countries.

There are no plans to build any new parking for the stadium. The plan is to use the parking already on campus for visitors to park.

The stadium is still in the early planning phase. It is currently on track to be finished by fall 2026.