Raymond James Stadium – South Florida Bulls
USF Rocks Raymond James
One would be excused without question for questioning a mid-major NCAA football program playing in the same stadium as a Super Bowl winning NFL team; the risk of stadium emptiness and a feeling of being too small in something too big is huge. However, thanks to a loyal fan base, a growing student population, a surge in on-field success, and ease of access, you have a recipe for a success story where many would expect failure. This is the story of USF football at Raymond James Stadium.
Food & Beverage 4
Being in an NFL stadium has its perks, chief among those being the sheer quality and variety in the concessions available on game day. Whether you want your standard stadium fare like burgers, hot dogs, and nachos, or if you have a feeling for something a little different, like a fresh-pressed hot Cuban sandwich, you can find what you need at Raymond James Stadium. Prices are comparable to those at other sports venues, so expect to spend between $10-15 per person with a main dish and drink.
The other added bonus here is that the end zones of the stadium feature open air plazas that give you a great view of the playing field during the game, meaning you don’t have to worry about sitting down to eat while missing the next big play.
Raymond James Stadium itself is a great place, and is tapped to host the Super Bowl again in 2021. During a visit, it is clear to see why – the place is kept immaculately clean in all aspects, from the restrooms to the seating areas.
The lower bowl is usually all that is open for USF games, and all seats down here are individual chairs with backs to them. Sitting in comfort for football, especially in Florida where the sun can be a bit harsh in the early season, is a big deal. Additionally, the stadium features the same aesthetic as at Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, complete with the giant pirate ship in the end zone.
The crowd’s loyalty is also on display, thanks to the packed stands and the incredible USF band. Outside, the banners and signs that adorn the stadium feature USF stars in addition to the Bucs’ decor. It truly feels like this is USF’s home and not merely a stadium in which they play.
The stadium itself is a bit removed from both USF’s campus and the downtown Tampa area. Thankfully, there are restaurants on the main drag nearby, but there is also an assortment of strip clubs and adult stores, making the drive into the stadium a bit of an interesting one to say the least.
For hotels, look to the Tampa Stadium Hotel or the Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore. For food, there is a popular Chili’s down the street, as well as a new Panera Bread. Also, but a short drive from Raymond James Stadium is the Cigar City Brewing Company, where you can take tours of the brewery and sample locally made cigars. Also, the Tampa International Plaza Mall is not far either.
To one’s surprise, USF garners a lot of fan interest on game day. Being a mid-major located in a town where professional sports franchises and sporting events abound (Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Rowdies, etc.), a lot of fans show up to cheer on their hometown Bulls. While the lower bowl may be the only section open, except during larger matchups when the upper concourse is also used, the seats are usually filled during even moderately interesting matchups throughout the year.
In addition, USF’s fans are loud, proud, and know when to cheer on their defense, as well as when to let the offense enjoy some peace and quiet.
To get to Raymond James Stadium, you can take I-275 through the Tampa area. The main roads in and out of the stadium area are all multiple lanes wide, meaning traffic doesn’t get as congested as at other sports stadiums that only have one lane roads. Parking on site is plentiful, as is the less expensive parking in various lots and properties around the area. The gates are all open when the stadium opens, so fans are not forced into using just one or two of the gates to get in and out. USF also uses the now commonly accepted Clear Bag Policy guidelines for those coming into the game.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets are not generally expensive for D1 college football, starting at $25 per game. However, when you add this to the price of concessions per person, a family of four is looking at over $150-$200 per person when looking to buy tickets, food and drinks, and maybe a t-shirt or hat while at the game. That said, the team is one of those in college football that is on the rise, and competes for bowl game spots now on a regular basis.
While the stadium features the famous pirate ship, it remains closed to fans during USF games, meaning you can look but you can’t touch.
The USF mascot always roams the stands and sidelines, helping add to the college atmosphere at games. The school also posts social media posts from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook during games on the jumbotron, meaning you might see your posts out there for the whole world to see.
The idea that USF could become a beacon for mid-major college football excellence is a bit quizzical to some, but clearly the game day experience at Raymond James Stadium speaks to USF’s ability to show the rest of the sporting world that they have what it takes. A greater than expected showing for fans, a comfortable atmosphere, and a family-friendly setup make USF football a great option for those who want good football in the Tampa Bay area without the NFL price.
International Plaza and Bay Street
2223 N. West Shore Blvd
Tampa, FL 33607
Tampa Stadium Hotel
4750 N Dale Mabry Hwy
Tampa, FL 33614
Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore
2225 N Lois Ave
Tampa, FL 33607
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Review by Jim Dietrich: South Florida&#039s football program isn&#039t as storied as other programs in their conference, but that doesn&#039t make them any less determined to prove themselves. Established in 1997, the rise of the Bulls has been slow, but steady. After spending their first 5 seasons in then-&quot1-AA&quot (now FCS), in 2001, they were promoted to 1-A (now FBS), and joined first Conference USA in 2003, only to leave for the Big East in 2005. They&#039ve actually achieved some success, having been ranked as high as #2 in the nation twice in the past few years. The in-game entertainment was your typical marching bands and fan participation contests. The stadium screens at both endzones are very nice and easily viewable from every seat. My only complaint is the house music director&#039s obvious affection toward DJ Khaled&#039s &quotAll I Do is Win&quot, as it was played — not once, not twice — but NINE TIMES. Surely there are more songs to get the crowd pumped. But hey, whatever helps, right...?