USF football’s $340 million stadium gets next step of board approval

USF’s proposed $340 million on-campus football stadium cleared another procedural hurdle Wednesday.

The board of trustees’ finance committee accepted the initial terms of a contract with a group of builders led by Manhattan Construction Company. Full approval must come with a vote by the full board at its June 4 meeting.

There was little discussion and no opposition Wednesday.

Under terms presented during the virtual committee meeting, the builders’ fee will be 2.25% of the cost of construction work outlined in the not-yet-decided guaranteed maximum price. That final cost will also have to be approved by the board later, and USF has the option to cancel the contract, formally called a construction management agreement.

Two pre-construction phases will total just under $490,000. The board previously authorized those costs as part of the ongoing design process.

Wednesday’s formality was the latest move in the Bulls’ years-long plan to move from Raymond James Stadium to a 35,000-seat venue just north of the team’s current practice facilities. USF originally picked Barton Malow to lead construction and finalized that contract last spring. But the Bulls canceled that deal in the fall. They pivoted to a plan that would give them more input while eliminating the premium they were paying for speed (which didn’t make sense, given the industry’s backed-up supply chain).

One part of the project, the operations center for football and women’s lacrosse, is set to open in 2026. The stadium itself is scheduled to be ready for the 2027 football season. If it’s not ready for Week 1, the contract will call for the construction group to pay the Bulls $2 million for each game the stadium cannot be used.

“We have built into the schedule some cushion for us to get to our season … and be able to ramp up in time for our season,” USF senior associate general counsel Hilary M. Black told the committee.

The Bulls intend to break ground on the 35,000-seat stadium during homecoming week for the Oct. 19 game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The school has closed on a $200 million loan to help pay for the stadium. The other $140 million will come from a variety of sources, including donations and the sale of broadband equipment/licenses. Students have approved $6.3 million toward the project in the 2024-25 fiscal year as part of their capital improvement trust fund.

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