USF $340 million football stadium moves one step closer to reality

The USF Bulls have taken the next big step toward the construction of their first-ever on-campus football stadium Tuesday.

The Board of Trustees Financial committee approved $22 million for the design phase of the new stadium. The overall cost of the stadium is an estimated $340 million, which, according to their plan, won’t require tax dollars or state funding. To come up with the funds, the university plans to finance $200 million over the next two decades and cover the remaining $140 million through fundraising, investment earnings, and through its capital improvement trust fund. 

The new state-of-the-art facility will not only shape the future of the Bulls’ football program, officials say it will transform life on campus. 

"We're excited about building what we call our athletic district that we think is going to be among the finest in the country," USF VP and Director of Athletics Michael Kelly told Fox 13 last year. "It rounds out what I think is going to be one of the finest athletic districts of any university in the country and it’s closest to the biggest majority of student housing and the Greek village, and also makes great use of the green space we have here on our campus."

Rendering of future USF stadium.

Rendering of future USF stadium. 

Many students say it’ll be a welcome change. The Bulls have played their games 12 miles off campus in the Bucs’ facilities since the football program’s inception in 1997. 

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"It’s super cool having that massive stadium, but it is a hassle to have to go all the way over there," USF student Dawson Denslow explained last spring. 

USF football players at practice.

USF football players at practice. 

The future football stadium will be built on the east side of campus on the site of the Sycamore Recreation Fields. The site is just to the north of the new indoor practice facility that opened earlier this year. 

RELATED: USF releases renderings showing vision for on-campus athletic district, along with football stadium

In order to make room for the 35,000 person, five-tier stadium, existing softball fields, fitness trail, and other outdoor spaces will need to be moved. 

Temporary relocation plans for these facilities were also approved Tuesday. The plan is to move them to research areas of campus for 7-10 years. But funding – expected to be no more than $18 million – is still being worked through. 

USF sign on campus.

USF sign on campus. 

The proposed five-tier stadium would also include 1,200 club-level seats, 40 loge boxes, 24 luxury suites and a field-level club area with the capacity to support 800 memberships. 

Leaders said Tuesday that in the past, USF football has generated up to $8 million a season at their existing home at Raymond James Stadium. But a new, on-campus home will change all of that. 

"Our deal with the stadium currently, as you know, does not provide us concessions, does not provide us parking revenue, limited sponsorship revenue and certainly no naming rights or premium revenue, so these are all the revenue sources that we are eager to have in the new facility," USF Vice President and Director of Athletics Michael Kelly said. 

President Rhea Law said the university first focused on becoming preeminent. Now that they’ve achieved that, they’ve set new goals. 

"We know that a university is a combination of all things that make it strong. And so in this case, the focus now on our front door, if you will, the thing that provides a lot of notoriety is athletics, and I think the action that was passed today is putting us on the right path," she said.

The Bulls hope to move into the new digs by the 2026 season.

Today’s finance committee meeting is the first of two approvals needed to move forward with plans. Final approval from the full Board of Trustees could come as soon as June 13. Should that happen, construction on the new stadium could begin as soon as October of this year.