TAMPA, Fla. – Some things need to be added, such as scoreboards and other components that should be in place before too long. Not that any of what was lacking dulled the good feeling being spread around USF’s indoor performance facility Tuesday morning.
While the Bulls used it toward the end of last season, it was a grand opening that marked a grand moment for many people associated with the university.
Among those who spoke to an audience of roughly a few hundred were university president Rhea Law, board of trustees chair Will Weatherford, athletic director Michael Kelly, and football coach Alex Golesh.
Mayor Jane Castor was also on hand to take in the festivities, which were bathed in much of the natural light that is a hallmark of the building’s design.
“It is extremely rewarding,” said Kelly. “The builders did a first-class job, and we raised enough money to do it the right way. We were able to kind of take the best of everything we saw around the country and build a state-of-the-art (facility).”
The hope is that the 88,000-square-foot structure, named the Porter Family Indoor Performance Facility after the university received a $5.1 million gift from Pasco County resident and land planner J.D. Porter, signals the launch of a new era at USF as it pertains to athletics as a whole, but especially football.
“We are full throttle,” said Weatherford, a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. “(President Law) and I talk about this all the time, and that is we have committed more to the football program here at the University of South Florida in the last 24 months than we did in the 24 years before. There is a new era of investment and focus, and commitment on building world-class athletics facilities and athletics programs here at the University of South Florida. We are committed at the board level and at the administrative level to being competitive and to winning.”
Weatherford noted that the goal of having an on-campus stadium by fall 2026 or 2027 remains intact, though supply chain issues and the like could play a role in the timing. Golesh would like to see additional facilities developments pushed along as fast as possible.
“I am pushing for all of the other stuff to be done at a faster timetable than has been said in the past,” he said, in referencing the stadium and the football center that would be part of it.
After one month on the job, the 38-year-old first-year coach is pleased by what he has seen and experienced. That includes the indoor facility with its 100-yard turf football field, but also the energy of a unified leadership that it is getting things done like never before at USF.
“The commitment that was talked about when I went through the (hiring) process with them, has come to fruition,” he said. “Everything we have needed we have gotten so far and that seems to be a sign of good things to come.”