Football practice field makes debut; permanent stadium a long-term vision

By Sara Agans

Staff Writer

 This artist’s rendering is the vision of what the UWF football stadium might eventually look like. Photo by Sara Agans.

This artist’s rendering is the vision of what the UWF football stadium might eventually look like.
Photo by Sara Agans.

All year we’ve seen it being built. Piles of dirt being pushed around, machinery in use, and finally, the new Argos practice field has been completed. On April 16, it had its first introduction to the UWF community when the blue-white game was played there.

For the next two years, the inaugural UWF football team will practice there, and play home games downtown at Wahoos Stadium. But what about a long-term home stadium on campus for the team?

The current football practice field will eventually become the game field, UWF Athletic Director David Scott said. “No different than what you see out there… you don’t want to spend money twice, so you are trying to put it in the spot where it is going to be,” Scott said.

Looking at the practice field now, Scott said on one end of the field, there could potentially be a building there.

“As we are able to add throughout the years, we will just continue to build out to what will eventually be a stadium, what will eventually be a facility that we will use. As far as the timeline and how quickly that will happen, that will determine on money and giving, and even on the next (UWF) president. It’ll be interesting how that plays out,” Scott said.

UWF has a contract with the Wahoos stadium to play there for the next two years, with an option of three one-year renewals after that. Scott said he expects the team to play there for three to five years, but it could be longer.

“There’s a lot of advantages to playing downtown, because we don’t have to spend a lot of money on building. So as we are starting to build other pieces, you can only do certain things as you can afford to do them,” Scott said.

He said more than 2,000 people came to the spring game and were enjoying hanging out. “A few guys brought a couch on top of the hill and were sitting there and they had their fraternity flag with them. People came and went, similar to the scrimmage we had downtown, so it was a neat environment,” Scott said.

“The part about bringing football to campus, some people look at it as a sport, but really it is about enhancing student life, hopefully making people aware of the University of West Florida, because we have a great academic institution. There were kids around the field from Enterprise, Alabama; Tate High School; kids from in town; so you are bringing in kids that maybe wouldn’t have looked at the University of West Florida before,” Scott said.

Scott said athletics are something that brings alumni back to campus, and give current students something to rally around. “It creates that glue that ties people back to the institution, like when you see the kind of people that showed up to the game last Saturday, and you get in conversations with people that are alums from 20 years ago that tell you that they thought they would never see the day.”

“Ever since the field has been built, on Twitter you will see sororities, fraternities and general students posting pictures with the Argo head and taking pictures on the field. It’s one of those places that is iconic and uniquely UWF,” Scott said.

“Hopefully what transpires is that it helps the university grow and bring a greater awareness for the University of West Florida. But as far as the field goes, it’s just the first step in a building process; the timeline is sort of to be determined.”