USF coach Skip Holtz set the conversation on building an on-campus stadium off and rolling last year when he said in a national interview he would be in favor of one if done the right way.
Since then, Bulls fans have waited in anticipation to see if anything would actually happen. Athletic director Doug Woolard was recently asked the same question in an interview with WUSF Public Media after renovations to the basketball arena were completed. This is what he said:
"It's something I know are in some long-range plans. It would be terrific to have a stadium on campus because for six or seven Saturdays in the fall, to have people throughout the whole region to come to our campus and see what it looks like, 50,000 people on Saturdays, it would be great. At the same time, we play at place right now that is pretty spectacular so I would hope that at some point in the future it would occur. But it's an expensive proposition and it would take a commitment and a business plan that would work to make that happen."
USF currently plays at Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To begin to even think about building an on-campus stadium, note the words "expensive proposition." Because the Bulls already play in such a great stadium, amenities and size wise, I really doubt the Bulls want to do this on the cheap.
They could opt to build an erector-set type stadium for somewhere in the neighborhood of maybe $70 million, but the stadium would be smaller than RayJay and full of metal bleachers. While it's true that a smaller stadium than RayJay is probably more appealing, any future stadium has to be done right, and get the right type of backing.
Particularly when you see the athletic department operated in the red last year, according to USA Today, and got nearly 40 percent of its revenues from subsidies. Outside sources of funding would have to be found, but even then the school would nearly be assured of taking on some sort of debt load. Building a football stadium is much more costly than any of the recent renovations and additions made to the athletic facilities.
It is good that USF is thinking big when it comes to future plans. But they need to be cautious as well, and make sure they have the perfect plan to make their dream a reality.