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USF Football Unveils 'Phase 1' Of Facility Improvements, Including Indoor Performance Facility

USF Athletics is unveiling the timetable for a $22 million indoor performance facility, along with $3 million in renovations to the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center.

As the University of South Florida football team begins preparing for its 25th season, the school is rolling out "phase one" of a plan to improve its facilities.

During a press conference Wednesday, Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said the highlight of the upgrade will be a $22 million indoor performance facility.

"It'll be an 88,000 square-foot facility. It will encapsulate an entire football field, be climate controlled and have a wonderful lobby and observation deck," said Kelly. "It'll be used obviously for football, for all of our athletic teams, for practice, and for performance training."

The facility will also be used for other university events.

Construction will start by the end of this summer and should be complete by the summer of next year.

Phase one also includes $3 million worth of renovations to the football section of the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center. Kelly said it will be the first major renovation of the football section since the building was built in 2004.

"It will make enhancements to the team meeting room — a meeting room that all of us at USF athletic uses, and a total renovation in the locker room to create not only a better facility for our student athletes, but also a lounge space, a nutrition area, and everything that our football team needs in our existing facility for the time being," he said.

That work will start shortly after the March 27 spring game and be complete by the time summer camps start in late July.

USF Football - Lee Roy Selmon Center Upgrades 2021

Kelly said all of the improvements will be completely funded by private donations.

"The passion we see from from our fans, whether they're providing $1 or $5 million, is needed. It's necessary. It's heartfelt," he said.

He adding that raising the money in a pandemic, while challenging, gave the university the chance to get its plans aligned.

"It mainly caused us to say, 'This is a critical time for USF. It's a pivotal time in collegiate athletics,' and I wanted to show the momentum coming out of this athletic department, that that we're charging forward, we're positioning ourselves to reach even higher heights."

Head football coach Jeff Scott also thanked donors, saying the improvements will be what he calls "a game-changer" for the program.

"I feel like we needed to make a statement to show that hey, we're committed to excellence in everything that we do," he said. "The vision, the energy that our leadership has in moving forward and taking action, it gets me really excited. And I feel like a project like this is going to create a lot of momentum."

Scott, who said he believes the indoor facility will be one of the best in the country, also looks forward to using it for two other reasons: player recruiting and dealing with Florida's unpredictable weather.

"What your current players like, that's what recruits are going to like," he said. "Being able to have a special area just for our players to spend time together, whether it's playing video games, watching TV, being able to sit down and eat, and just spend time together. We're trying to build a culture of a family environment where guys really get to know their teammates, they don't just go to the workouts, go shower, and go back to their apartment and move on with their day."

"It was important that we could have a place that we could always know that we're going to be able to get a complete full practice in," Scott said about the weather. "I probably spent more time this past year looking at the Weather Channel than I have in any years past."

Kelly said phase two of the plan will occur at a later date and will involve completion of the planned football operations center.

He also addressed one of the long-time questions many fans have had — what about a football stadium on the USF Tampa campus?

"I believe in an on-campus stadium. I think it's great. But it's just not the next step in our evolution," said Kelly.

He adds that paying in the home of the NFL champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers is also a recruiting chip, but having a stadium of their own remains on USF's list.

"Frankly, when we can raise the money to do it, because it's going to have to be a privately fundraising thing as well, it's a goal, but these are the right steps for us."

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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