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Mitch Perry Report for 9.28.15 — USF’s wandering eye

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Happy Monday/General Assembly Day at the UN, everyone.

Lots of things were happening over the weekend, but let’s transition into the working week by applauding the University of Florida Gators for its miraculous comeback victory over Tennessee, 28-27, early Saturday night in Gainesville. The victory puts UF in the  Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in two years.

Both FSU and USF took the week off. The Bulls return this Friday night to action, hosting Memphis at Raymond James Stadium for a 7 p.m kickoff.

This is as good a time as any to revisit an idea that popped earlier this year — that USF officials are serious about building their own football stadium for the Bulls, as opposed to having the team rent out to Raymond James four or five times a year. USF officials are studying the issue right now. Some folks fantasize that the team could build on the 80 acres currently occupied by MOSI property across the street from the Fowler Avenue campus, if ultimately a decision is made that would send the facility somewhere inside of Jeff Vinik’s 40 acres in the Channelside area.

A year ago, USF Athletic Director Mark Harlan said a new stadium was a priority to students and fans. “We would work with some companies and consultants to give us the answers to our questions,’’ he told The Tampa Tribune. “Where would it be located? What would it look like? What are the financial implications? If we’re getting into a stadium, we’re going to need private and public support. What kind of appetite is there for that in this climate? All those things would have to be researched.”

“Is this the best thing for the Bulls? I’m absolutely not saying it is,” Harlan added at the time. “But we’re going to dive deep and get some answers. We have an obligation to do that. If it’s not (ideal), then we continue playing at Raymond James Stadium. That’s where we are now, and we want to make it great for everyone.”

The stadium being contemplated would be in the 30,o00-40,000- seat range, or roughly half the size of Raymond James, located 12.5 miles south of USF in West Tampa.

Of course, the Bulls have been fairly terrible in recent years, making fans nostalgic for when they appeared in low-tier post-season affairs like the PapaJohns.com Bowl (h/t to Joe O’Neill for that reference). They averaged a paltry 17,700 a game last year.

Frankly, if USF continues to struggle on the gridiron, why would anybody care about spending money to construct a facility that will be used all of four or five times a year? And will it fit into the the “innovation” area that local officials are aspiring to?

In other news…

Forget about medical pot. Tallahassee House Democrat Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda has filed a bill to legalize weed outright in the Sunshine State.

St. Pete House Democrat Darryl Rouson has filed legislation that would ban the  Confederate flag on government property.

And Marco Rubio is movin’ on up in the polls as he hosts a fundraising lunch at an undisclosed location in Tampa today.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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