USF selects a recommended build team for on-campus stadium

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The University of South Florida is one step closer to hosting football games on campus.

USF announced Tuesday that university leaders selected a design and build team to complete its on-campus stadium, which stakeholders will recommend for approval by the USF Board of Trustees. University stakeholders will recommend Barton Malow and Populous as the design and build team, respectively.

USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly and USF Foundation CEO Jay Stroman, who co-Chair the stadium planning committee, notified the USF Board of Trustees of their choice. The selection is still subject to board approval in the coming weeks.

“The University of South Florida’s plan to construct an on-campus stadium is taking a major step forward with the recommendation of a design/build team,” Kelly said in a statement. “The selected partner will play a critical role in helping us develop a more complete understanding of the scope of the project, including many of the details and design features that we know Bulls fans eagerly anticipate.”

The Barton Malow and Populous team has experience with collegiate and professional athletics projects, including projects in Florida and prior work with USF.

The firms have collaborated for more than 25 years on more than 40 sport venues across the country, including Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, Orlando City Soccer Club’s Exploria Stadium and Gillette Stadium for the New England Patriots. Currently, the companies are partnered on Vanderbilt University’s $300 million+ athletics master plan.

Between the two, Barton Malow/Populous have worked on 85 college stadiums, including projects at facilities such as Notre Dame Stadium, the University of Michigan’s “Big House” and the Rose Bowl, as well as six brand new stadiums, including at Baylor University, Colorado State University and the University of Minnesota.

The next steps? University leaders will now work to finalize negotiations with the team in hopes to come back to trustees for approval in the next month.

From there, the design phase of the project will kick off and continue for about 18 months, with engagement opportunities available for students, faculty, staff, alumni and other supporters to provide input.

The university has committed to a goal of awarding at least 36% of the on-campus stadium costs to women, veteran or minority-owned businesses. Near the start of the design/build procurement process, USF brought business owners and other community partners together for an informational session to raise awareness about potential opportunities with the stadium and will continue proactive outreach efforts as the project moves forward.

The university is also minding environmental stewardship, with discussions ongoing with the recommended design/build team about integrating the existing natural environment into the design.

“We continue to make significant progress toward turning the vision for an on-campus stadium into a reality,” Stroman said in a statement. “The important planning that we’re doing now is going to result in a transformational project that the University of South Florida community and the entire Tampa Bay region will benefit from for generations to come.”

In March, USF leaders recommended a site for the stadium on the east side of the Tampa campus known as Sycamore Fields, which will help maximize the game-day experience for fans, create new opportunities for community building and provide synergy with the USF Athletics district.

USF hopes to open the new stadium by fall 2026.

The stadium’s progress isn’t the only big news for athletes at USF. In August, it was announced that USF athletes could now be able to receive compensation via the launch of the Fowler Ave Collective — the university’s first and only name, image and likeness (NIL) collective.

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