South Florida varsity venue plans milestone



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University of South Florida selects Populous and Barton Malow Image: USF

The University of South Florida (USF) (US) reached an important milestone on September 6th in the process to construct an on-campus stadium, as university leaders recommended selecting the design/build team of Barton Malow and Populous for the project.

‘University of South Florida’ stated that the University of South Florida Vice-President of Athletics, Michael Kelly, and the USF Foundation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jay Stroman, the Co-Chairs of the stadium planning committee, informed the USF Board of Trustees of the intent to award to Barton Malow and Populous following a competitive procurement process. The selection is still subject to Board approval in the coming weeks.

The University of South Florida is a public research university with its main campus located in Tampa, Florida, US, and other campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota. It is one of 12 members of the State University System of Florida.

Stated Kelly, “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. 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/Populous team brings world-class qualifications and a highly successful track record with collegiate and professional athletics projects, including a wealth of experience in Florida and prior work with the University of South Florida. The firms have collaborated for more than 25 years on more than 40 sport venues across the United States, such as the Penn State’s 106,572-capacity Beaver Stadium in Pennsylvania, the Major League Soccer (MLS) team Orlando City Soccer Club’s 25,500-capacity Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, the 65,878-capacity Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, for the National Football League (NFL) team New England Patriots, the 41,084-capacity Truist Park in Georgia for the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Atlanta Braves, and many more. Additionally, both companies are currently partnering on Vanderbilt University’s $300 million+ athletics masterplan.

‘University of South Florida’ further stated that between the two, Barton Malow/Populous have worked on 85 college stadiums, including projects at iconic facilities such as the 77,622-capacity Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana, the University of Michigan’s 107,601 ‘Big House’ in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Rose Bowl, as well as six brand new stadiums, including at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After updating the Board of Trustees on September 6th during its meeting on the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, university leaders will now work to finalize negotiations with the selected partner and aim 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 approximately 18 months, with numerous engagement opportunities available for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other supporters to provide input.

As part of University of South Florida’s strong support of supplier diversity, the university has committed to a goal of awarding at least 36 percent of the on-campus stadium costs to women, veteran or minority-owned businesses. Near the start of the design/build procurement process, the 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.

Environmental stewardship also remains a priority for the University of South Florida with the project, with discussions ongoing with the recommended design/build team about integrating the existing natural environment into the design.

Added Stroman, “We continue to make significant progress toward turning the vision for an on-campus stadium into a reality. 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, the University of South Florida leaders recommended a site for the stadium on the east side of the Tampa campus known as Sycamore Fields, which will help maximize the gameday experience for fans, create new opportunities for community building and provide synergy with the University of South Florida Athletics district.

The University of South Florida continues to target Fall 2026 for playing games in the new stadium. More information on the project is available here.

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