USF finance committee approves $340 million plan for on-campus stadium


The proposal will seek approval in a full Board of Trustees meeting on June 13. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF

USF’s Board of Trustees (BOT) finance committee unanimously approved to incur a $200 million debt for the on-campus stadium in a meeting on Tuesday morning.

The project’s total cost, which includes construction, design, contingency and furnishings and equipment, is estimated to be $340 million according to the BOT’s finance agenda

Financing for the stadium is broken down into two payments. First, the Bulls will take on a $200 million loan with a 20‐year term and an estimated fixed, taxable interest rate of 5.50% starting in the 2024 fiscal year. The annual debt service averages out to around $17.8 million, according to the BOT’s finance agenda.

Certain non-stadium and stadium operating revenues such as ticket sales, concession, merchandise, event parking and stadium advertising revenues will be used to pay off that debt. 

Additionally, the remaining $140 million will come directly from USF. Its portion of the financing will be through $50 million in donations from the USF Foundation, $34 million from auxiliary funds and proceeds from the 2017 FCC auction of TV broadband, $31 million from the capital improvement trust fund and $25 million in cash.

No state funds or tax dollars are in the proposal.

During discussions before the action proposal was passed, trustee and Faculty Senate president Jenifer Jasinski Schneider voiced concerns about whether the debt would affect other areas across the university, including academics.

“Will other sports be affected by this? How do we separate and protect parts of the university? If we use the stadium for classrooms and other spaces? How do we know those will all be built out and used for students and faculty? Where’s that process in this?” Schneider said. 

Chief Financial Officer Richard J. Sobieray said he “understood the sensitivity” behind the concerns. However, he assured that the recent funding boosts the school received from state legislatures emphasized the university’s priority on academics. 

Sobieray also said that the project’s risks were thoroughly considered during the making of the project. This conservative approach was considered in USF’s 40 meetings with the design-build team of Barton Malow and Populous. During those meetings, the opinions of students, faculty, fans and school officials were considered for the stadium’s design.   

In its design-build contract, USF can walk away without penalty if the Bulls don’t accept the final price tag. The Bulls will also receive $2 million in damages from the construction-build team for every home game that the stadium is unavailable in 2026.

“I think we’ve tried to address all those angles to ensure this project is successful and minimizes the risk to the university,” Sobieray said.

While the numbers provided by the plan estimate the stadium’s cost, a guaranteed maximum price range will not be presented until summer or spring 2024, Len Moser, Barton Malow’s vice president of sports, said to the Tampa Bay Times.

Shortly after approving the stadium plan, the financing committee approved another action item relating to the project. The proposed site will displace several current student recreational facilities. This will affect student clubs and intramural programs that use areas such as Sycamore fields. 

To mitigate the impact, the committee agreed to vacant research areas on campus for seven to 10 years. Because the stadium is expected to begin construction in summer 2024, according to the agenda, the relocated facilities must be operational before then. 

The relocation project is estimated to take approximately one year, and the initial estimated total is around $18 million.

Tuesday marked another step in the right direction toward the stadium becoming a reality. There are still benchmarks to pass such as a full BOT meeting on June 13 and a Board of Governors two-day meeting on Aug 29-30.