Wiregrass Ranch developer JD Porter says that athletics have always been important to his family, so when the chance came to play a significant role in helping the University of South Florida add a state-of-the-art training facility, Porter said it was impossible for him to resist.
On Jan. 10, Porter and his family were on hand to celebrate the opening of the Porter Family Indoor Performance Facility on USF’s Tampa campus. The 88,000-sq.-ft. facility features a 100-yard turf field, an observation deck, scoreboards, locker rooms, a reception lobby and more.
“We think it’s going to be a difference maker,” said Porter, echoing the sentiment of everyone involved.
For decades, the lack of quality on-campus facilities has been a detriment to recruiting, particularly for football, which also has been saddled by the lack of an on-campus stadium.
But, the Porter family’s $5.1-million donation is the first step towards correcting those deficiencies, and a new on-campus football stadium is right around the corner, perhaps as soon as fall 2026.
At the event on Jan. 10, new USF football coach Alex Golesh said that not having this type of training facility is a huge disadvantage, “but I think a facility like this puts you on a level playing field.”
The Porter family has steadfastly supported USF. The James H. and Martha M. Porter Endowment for Alzheimer’s Research was established to benefit the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine’s pursuit of collaborative Alzheimer’s research with the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. In addition, the Porter family started the James H. & Martha M. Porter Alzheimer’s Research Equipment Operating Fund to support equipment purchases for use in that collaborative research.
Porter said his family, which founded a branch campus of Pasco-Hernando State College in Wiregrass Ranch and donated the land for the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus, was happy to help, and applauded the team that helped make it happen, which included Wesley Chapel resident (and former Speaker of the Florida House) Will Weatherford, who currently is the chairman of the USF Board of Trustees.
“It was a natural fit,” Porter said. “Athletics and education have always been important to our family, and this was just a great opportunity. Knowing that the right team was at the helm to actually execute the plan made it a fairly easy decision for us.”