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USF football facility receives name after $5.1 million gift

Mark Parker

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The University of South Florida's long-awaited indoor performance facility now bears the Porter family's name after a $5.1 million donation. Photos courtesy of giving.usf.edu.

The University of South Florida’s much anticipated indoor performance facility (IPF) officially has a name following a special Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday.

The board unanimously agreed to name the recently completed project the Porter Family Indoor Performance Facility. Jay Stroman, CEO of the USF Foundation, said the naming opportunity arose last year when J.D. Porter donated $5.1 million to the university.

However, Stroman said Porter asked to remain anonymous until the facility opened. Stroman noted that USF officials “took possession” of the IPF Dec. 23 and planned a small function for donors at the site Wednesday night. The grand opening is next week, and Stroman said the timing felt right to end the speculation.

“They’ve been great stewards of Pasco County for a very long time, been supporters of the university and many community amenities that we all enjoy,” said Will Weatherford, board chair. “And we’re really pleased they stepped up in a big way and that we get to honor them for this great donation.”

USF President Rhea Law concluded the brief meeting by stating that “2023 is going to be epic.”

From left: USF Foundation CEO Jay Stroman, J.D. Porter and President Rhea Law.

University officials first announced the project in 2017. Since then, a new athletic director and two head football coaches have joined the long process to see the facility to fruition.

A USF press release Thursday announcing the news stated that the IPF would benefit all student-athletes. However, elite indoor practice facilities are critical for major football programs to attract top recruits – especially those that must endure Florida’s summer heat, thunderstorms and lightning.

The 88,000-square-foot facility with an estimated $40 million price tag features a 100-yard turf field, observation deck, reception lobby, outdoor plaza, scoreboards and a video production area. It is a critical part of the USF Athletics Facilities Masterplan, unveiled in September 2022 and anchored by an on-campus football stadium.

“The Porter Family Indoor Performance Facility will be a game-changer for our student-athletes as they prepare for their next competition – especially on days with inclement weather,” said Law in a statement. “We are incredibly grateful to the Porter family for supporting USF Athletics and the success of our student-athletes.”

Michael Kelly, USF vice president of athletics, called Porter’s $5.1 million gift transformational. He said the IPF is a key element in the school’s pursuit of conference and national championships.

Michael Kelly (left), USF vice president of Athletics, with new head football coach Alex Golesh inside the performance facility in December. Screengrab.

The release notes that the Porter Family are longtime supporters of the university. Contributions include the James H. and Martha M. Porter Endowment for Alzheimer’s research, established to help the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine’s collaboratively study the disease with the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.

Bolstering those efforts is the James H. and Martha M. Porter Alzheimer’s Research Equipment Operating Fund, used to purchase tools critical to the college and institute’s combined mission.

“Our family has been here for generations, and it’s been really wonderful seeing the synergy at USF,” said J.D. Porter. “A strong board and strong university leadership who recognize the importance of athletics and education coming together. The right mix of people and the right team together made it easy for us to step up and do this for the community.”

Many Tampa Bay residents know Porter as the land planner responsible for the 5,000-acre Wiregrass Ranch project in central Pasco County.

The release states that the development is recognized nationally as a “premier mixed-use community.” Wiregrass ranch is home to the Shops at Wiregrass, Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, North Tampa Behavioral Health and the new Pasco Hernando State College Porter Campus.

A public grand opening for the Porter Family Indoor Performance Facility takes place Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 9:30 a.m. Law, Kelly, Weatherford and new head football coach Alex Golesh will speak at the event.

“This gift further cements USF’s path to excellence – both on and off the field,” said Stroman.

 

 

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