After years of dreams, hopes, and rumors, it appears that University of South Florida football will finally get a place of its own.
Wednesday was already a joyful occasion for the USF community, as the university officially broke ground on its long-awaited $22 million Indoor Performance Facility. Just a few minutes into the press conference for that event, Will Weatherford, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said the enthusiasm surrounding that project let him know the time was right for an even greater commitment to athletics.
“When your mascot is a bull, you can’t be shy about moving ahead with conviction when the time is right,” Weatherford said.
With that, Weatherford announced what so many university stakeholders have been waiting to hear since USF first fielded a football team 25 years ago: “I’m just going to say it – I for one think Bulls Nation deserves to have a stadium on this campus.”
“These student-athletes … our 50,000 students … the alumni, faculty, and administration, they all deserve a stadium on this campus. I’m here to tell you – we are going to do it.”
Weatherford, also a former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and co-chairman of Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV Host Committee, said an on-campus stadium would take a lot of work and some time to come to fruition, but the moment is right to begin the endeavor.
“There’s a renowned author named Victor Hugo who once said, ‘There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come,’” said Weatherford. “Our time has come.”
Victor Hugo once said “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come” The time has come for @USFFootball to have an on campus stadium! Let’s do this! Go Bulls 🤘🤘🤘 pic.twitter.com/zzdlONCEFs
— Will Weatherford (@willweatherford) September 8, 2021
Weatherford added that with Athletic Director Michael Kelly and head football coach Jeff Scott at the helm, he is confident that “the best days are ahead of us.
“We deserve it, the university deserves it, and this community deserves it. And with your help, we’re going to make it happen.”
Weatherford’s comments concluded to a rousing round of applause by the hundreds of boosters, alumni, staff members, and players who attended the groundbreaking ceremony. Kelly took the stage after Weatherford, and although he did not offer any more details on a stadium plan, he was smiling from ear to ear as he approached the podium.
Coach Scott was also visibly excited as he addressed the crowd, saying that “as a football coach, to stand here and hear your current chairman of the board talk about not only this step but the next big step with an on-campus stadium – that’s incredible.”
Scott said that to make a dream a reality, you must first take action. That is what Wednesday signified – taking action. He said it was a great message to the current student-athletes, former athletes, alumni, and current students and faculty that USF is on an upward trajectory. He also noted the importance of the message that the day’s news sends to future recruits.
“We are building; we are striving for this university, this athletic program, and this football team to be the very best that we can be,” said Scott. “I have no doubt in my mind … that the future for this university and its athletics teams is very bright.”
He added: “I believe firmly that the best is yet to come.”
USF was founded in 1956, and original plans for the campus included a football stadium. However, the university’s first president, John Allen, was described as anti-athletics, and the first sports team – men’s soccer – did not debut until 1965. A football program was introduced to much fanfare in 1997.
The Bulls play in Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and host to three Super Bowls and a College Football National Championship.
According to gousfbulls.com, Weatherford said the focus is on building the stadium within the campus borders – between Fowler Avenue and Fletcher Avenue. Weatherford said further details were on the way, and those interested should “stay tuned, it’s coming.”
The outlet also reported that Scott said he heard the on-campus stadium talk behind closed doors for about four months and was excited to finally talk openly on the matter. “This isn’t just talk – there’s action,” he said.
In closing the ceremony, Interim President Rhea Law said it was clear the day was “a special one for all of us” and hopes the entire USF community will continue to celebrate the next great vision that Weatherford presented.
“When we all link arms, there is just nothing that we can’t do,” said Law. “Bulls power.”