TAMPA — Hundreds of students sporting Bull Pride boarded buses Saturday afternoon that formed a caravan to Raymond James Stadium for the start of college football season.
The University of South Florida Bulls took on the McNeese State University Cowboys in USF’s first home game.
An hour or more before the 4 p.m. departure of the buses, students began lining up outside Marshall Student Center. With 16 buses available, more than 800 students could climb aboard.
For many it was a convenience that beat fighting traffic jams from the USF campus on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to the stadium off Dale Mabry Highway.
Ideally, said students interviewed by a news reporter, they would prefer to have a football stadium on the university’s campus.
USF senior Jennifer Drotos, 28, is visually impaired and relies on buses to attend games. But, she said, “It would be better if there was a stadium on campus. You wouldn’t have to travel so much.”
She arrived one hour before departure time Saturday. “The lines are pretty long,” she said, and the downside is sitting on the sidewalk and waiting.
Senior Ankit Singh, 22, sometimes drives and sometimes rides the bus to avoid traffic. “I think more students would go to games on campus than over there,” he said.
Singh talked Taiwanese graduate student Yu-Cheng Wang, 26, into taking the bus to his first-ever football game on Saturday. “He told me the first game is the most important,” Wang said.
Senior Ardranna Weatherspoon, 21, said she usually drives but decided — for the first game of the season — to take the bus. “We’re all excited,” she said but “heavy, heavy traffic on Dale Mabry is not fun.”
An on-site campus stadium might create more school spirit, she said.
Lauren Brodd and Hollie Pittman, both are 18-year-old freshmen. Brodd said, “We have good spirit here but (a USF stadium) wouldn’t hurt anything.”
“More people would go to games,” Pittman said.