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USF football: The State Approves The Bulls’ $340 Million On-Campus Stadium

Friday, the State University System Board of Governors approved the school’s plan to borrow up to $200 million for the $340 million project, removing another obstacle in the way of USF’s proposed on-campus football stadium.

Two years after USF board of trustees chairperson Will Weatherford publicly declared that the time for an on-campus stadium had finally arrived, the unanimous authorization was given during Friday’s virtual meeting.

After the vote, USF president Rhea Law said in a statement, “An on-campus stadium will lift the University of South Florida to new heights, creating a brighter future for our university, our students, and the entire Tampa Bay region.” We are thankful for the help of the Leading body of Lead representatives as we push ahead with our arrangements for a groundbreaking arena that will take our college to a higher level.”

For the 2026 season, a 35,000-seat stadium is planned to open north of the practice facilities. The project will also be funded by $59 million from other university sources, such as the sale of broadband equipment, $31 million from the students’ capital improvement trust fund, and $50 million from fundraising from the private USF Foundation.

Two memos that examined the financial proposal were presented prior to the meeting by the state’s Division of Bond Finance director. In August, J. Ben Watkins III wrote that USF’s plan had “arguably ambitious projections” for things like conference payouts and ticket sales. Watkins stated that consultants’ estimates “far exceed” the assumed ticket revenues.

This week, Watkins wrote in a memo that “will likely necessitate budget cuts for athletics or require additional subsidies from unrestricted funds from the USF endowment” if athletic revenue has “any negative operating performance” or fails to meet its fundraising goals.

Neither the facilities committee meeting nor the full board meeting encountered any such objections.

Since USF’s trustees approved the plan in June, the expected interest rate has increased from 5.5% to 7%. According to Director of Finance and Facilities for the Board of Governors Kevin Pichard, USF’s most recent income projections account for that difference. Pichard stated during the committee meeting that the school’s initial estimates were overly conservative and did not include all new revenue sources.

Weatherford gave his “own responsibility that we won’t go into any monetary responsibility that endangers this college’s monetary honesty.” He also said the stadium was important to the athletic department’s future in conference realignment because UCF, Houston, and Cincinnati, three of USF’s peers in the American Athletic Conference, left for the Big 12 last year. The following year, SMU will join the ACC.

Weatherford stated, “It’s no coincidence that each of these universities also made a significant investment in their athletic facilities, either through the construction of a new stadium or enormous renovations to their existing one.” The conference realignment will continue, according to general agreement. We need to make investments right away if the university is going to be able to position itself for the future.

Friday’s development came a day after USF announced that Tampa General Hospital would contribute $25 million, the largest amount ever given to a school, to build an operations center next to the stadium. The hospital’s clinical space will be housed in that center, as will the football and women’s lacrosse teams’ homes.

The stadium project is still in the design phase, which is being led by Populous Architecture and Barton Malow Construction. A final price will probably be approved by USF’s trustees the following year.

Update on Florida State University’s football stadium The board of trustees at Florida State University heard a presentation but did not vote on a proposal to borrow $255 million to renovate Doak Campbell Stadium. In what Peter Collins, the chairman of the board, described as “one of the biggest undertakings we’ve taken in athletics” in decades, the school intends to redesign the south end zone and the west seats.

FSU plans to add a field-level club region and redesign the club region in the south end zone, which, athletic chief Michael Alford said, has never sold over 51% of its 5,400 seats. The school wants to provide a variety of seating options, including loge and ledge seating, there.

Club seating options and additional space would be added to the west side. If the project is approved, FSU will use temporary seating for the 2024 season until construction is finished in time for the 25th season’s start.

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