The $22 million latest on USF’s on-campus football stadium push

USF’s push for an on-campus stadium took another step Tuesday during a virtual board of trustees meeting. The Bulls will officially request up to $22 million for the draft phase of the project during the regular full board meeting on March 7.

“We’re excited to move into this next phase…” said Jay Stroman, CEO of the USF Foundation and one of the leaders of the stadium push. “This is the right time step for the university.”

The meeting included more questions than usual about the overall budget for the project and how it will be paid for. The answers, USF officials said, will become clearer over the next 6-10 months as USF works with Populous and Barton Malow’s design-build team to figure out the Bulls’ full wish list and price of those items.

The deal is about 95% complete, Stroman said, but both sides are bound by a term sheet. This term sheet contains a provision that allows USF to pay liquidated damages of $2 million for each home game in the 2026 season in which the new stadium is not yet completed.

No government funding will be used for the $22 million design phase, Stroman said. Instead, the bulls “well exceeded” that number from philanthropic donations, investment income, and other methods to address the move.

Trustees Chair Will Weatherford said he understands the budget and funding plan questions, but it’s difficult to be transparent while those answers are still being sought. Once the design phase is complete, the board will be asked to vote on a full plan to build the stadium, which is expected to cost nine figures.

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“It takes a long time. It’s not cheap,” Weatherford said. “But I appreciate that our team has put the extra effort into ensuring that dollars are not being used that would go toward educating our students or paying the faculty to build this facility and design this facility. Aside from that, these are separate dollars. Almost every major university in America has figured out how to build a stadium on their campus, and so can we – and we will.

Tuesday’s update is the latest in a year-long quest to move Bulls games from Raymond James Stadium to a 35,000-seat stadium on campus. The Bulls intend to build it north of the current practice facilities. USF officials have targeted 2026 as the stadium’s inaugural season.

This story will be updated.

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