The University of South Florida is investing millions in transforming its athletic district, anchored by a long-awaited on-campus stadium, to boost student-athlete and fan experiences.
Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly unveiled new renderings, a facilities master plan and an athletics strategic plan Thursday that outlines additions and enhancements and identifies the department’s goals.
At a press conference following the news release, Kelly noted the importance of putting recent developments and discussions into one cohesive plan. He said the university, fan base and athletic department deserve – and need – a vision and focus for the future following pandemic disruptions.
“This is the time to invest; this is the time to be bold,” said Kelly. “We have an awesome opportunity to bring this all together.”
A key component to sharing the plans is boosting fundraising efforts for the new additions. These include opening an on-campus football and lacrosse stadium by the fall of 2026, a baseball and softball clubhouse, a tennis facility and building a new press box and video board for the track and field stadium.
The recently announced beach volleyball program will get a new facility adjacent to the Yuengling Center, while women’s lacrosse will enjoy a new locker room and offices in a renovated Lee Roy Selmon Center.
Kelly noted the athletic department must rely more on private fundraising rather than money earmarked for educational purposes to achieve its goals, “and logically so.”
“In order for us to get out and be able to raise dollars from donors, you have to present that vision, present renderings and present things that they can put their arms around,” said Kelly. “You have to be ready for when that donor comes with the project that he, or she, are interested in … but if you don’t have that vision in front of you, you’re just delaying another year or so to get to home base.
“So, we’re in that batter’s box now.”
Many of the facility upgrades outlined in the plan recently concluded or are nearing completion, headlined by a $22 million Indoor Performance Facility set to open this fall. The university finished $3 million worth of football locker room and office renovations last summer.
In addition, USF completed a $2 million television broadcast facility, a $1 million track resurfacing project, installation of new hydrotherapy pools in the Lee Roy Selmon Center and $1.2 million in extensive upgrades to the volleyball center in 2020.
“It really is spectacular to have everything that close,” said Kelly, “that concise and that efficient for the modern day and future student-athlete.”
The strategic plan highlighted five key goals for the university’s athletic department: provide an unparalleled student-athlete experience; renovate, expand and enhance the USF Athletics District; elevate athletic performance; foster a culture that promotes efficiency, innovation, teamwork and inclusion; and embrace the campus and Tampa Bay communities.
Kelly reiterated that he expects an on-campus stadium to open in time for the 2026 football season. Design and construction proposals were due July 22, and the USF Board of Trustees will provide an update on the evaluation process during a Sept. 6 meeting on the St. Petersburg campus.
“All of these things are coming together at the right time,” he said. “It’s essential for our future, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team for working hard to put this plan together.”