BLUE WAHOOS STADIUM
On Sept. 18, 2013, the University of West Florida and the Community Maritime Park Associates reached an agreement in concept for the UWF football team to play its home games at Blue Wahoos Stadium when the team begins playing in 2016.
Blue Wahoos Stadium is a 5,100 seat, multi-use facility located directly on beautiful Pensacola Bay and is also home to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Double-A Professional Baseball Team. Opened in 2012, Blue Wahoos Stadium has been recognized as the "2012 Stadium of the Year" for all levels of professional baseball by Baseballparks.com and the public development of the year by the local chapter of NAIOP.
"This further strengthens the community's ties to UWF by bringing these exciting games downtown to the Blue Wahoos Stadium," said CMPA Chairman Collier Merrill. "The CMPA promised and delivered an award winning facility that can host multiple types of events. Our hope is that UWF football at the Blue Wahoos Stadium continues the excitement we see downtown during the baseball season into the late summer and fall."
Earlier in September, UWF President Judy Bense announced that UWF football will host its inaugural season in Fall 2016. The addition of a football program is one part of the University's larger goal to enhance student life, attract more students from across the state and region and increase student retention, provide a more vibrant campus experience for students and alumni, increase school spirit, and expand sponsorship and other fundraising opportunities.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play college football in such a beautiful setting as the Blue Wahoos Stadium," said UWF President Judy Bense. "We sincerely appreciate the partnership with Quint and Rishy Studer, The Blue Wahoos, the CMPA and the City of Pensacola. Together we are adding vibrancy to the university and community, and building affinities that will last a lifetime."
UWF will hire a head football coach in Spring 2014, who will start recruiting the first football student-athletes that fall. The inaugural recruiting class will be enrolled in Fall 2015 and begin practices and scrimmages in preparation for the inaugural season in Fall 2016.
"This is one of the most exciting times in Pensacola's history," said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, III."A multi-use stadium in our community was envisioned all along.With student-resident halls in the Historic Pensacola Village and offices in Belmont-DeVilliers, football at the Community Maritime Park is another example of the University of West Florida establishing a strong presence in our downtown."
"We are thrilled to support UWF's efforts to bring an exciting brand of college football to Pensacola," said Bruce Baldwin, Blue Wahoos President. "We believe that using Community Maritime Park, and Blue Wahoos Stadium as the base for fan destination, not only helps UWF start their program on a positive note, but also brings more people to our downtown."
The University's long-term plan is for the team to play in a stadium built on campus, as described in the athletics facilities master plan. The athletics facilities master plan also calls for additional on campus practice facilities for the football team.
The UWF Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has won seven national championships, and West Florida leads all schools in Gulf South Conference history with 71 league championships at 16 all-sports trophies. Football will be the 15th varsity sport at the University. Women's swimming and diving was added as UWF's 14th varsity sport and the team will start competing officially this October.