Yuengling Center, formerly known as the USF Sun Dome, is a 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m2) multi-purpose facility on the campus of the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida. It was built, starting in 1977 and was completed on November 29, 1980. It is located on the southeast side of campus, and is home to the men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams. The center hosts approximately 300 different events each year, including sporting events, concerts, home and garden shows, trade shows, religious services and conventions, ethnic festivals, rodeos, bull riding competitions, youth sports camps, professional wrestling, boxing, taekwondo tournaments, gymnastics and cheerleading competitions, commencement ceremonies, lectures and political rallies among other corporate, community and university events.
|Former names||USF Sun Dome (1980–2018)|
|Location||Bull Run Dr|
Tampa, Florida 33620
|Owner||University of South Florida|
|Operator||Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties|
|Surface||QuickLock Portable Floor|
(northern hard maple)
|Opened||November 29, 1980|
|Renovated||1993, 2000, 2011|
|Construction cost||$12 million|
($36.5 million in 2018 dollars)
|Architect||Barger + Dean Architects, Inc.|
|South Florida Bulls|
(Basketball & volleyball)
In June 2018, USF signed a 10-year naming rights deal with brewer D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc., which runs a brewery near the college campus. The Sun Dome was officially rechristened as the Yuengling Center on July 1, 2018.
Before the Yuengling Center, USF's indoor sports teams played at various locations on and off campus. The basketball teams first played at Curtis Hixon Hall in downtown Tampa, and later split their home schedule between Curtis Hixon Hall, the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg, and the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
By 1975, both the University of South Florida and the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville had decided to build new on-campus indoor sports facilities. The two schools pooled their resources and shared the cost of a basic arena design to stretch limited state funding. The "core unit" of the USF's Sun Dome Center and UF's O'Connell Center were nearly identical, and they each featured a flexible, inflatable roof made of Teflon and supported by a system of blowers. However, the O'Connell Center included facilities for other sports around the main arena while the Sun Dome as originally built did not. These were added in later expansions.
The $12 million Sun Dome broke ground in November 1977 on formerly open land on the southeast side of campus not far from Fowler Avenue. Construction was slowed on both the Sun Dome and the O'Connell Center when cracks appeared in precast concrete support beams. The problems were eventually fixed, and the sister facilities were completed within a few weeks of each other in late 1980 – the Sun Dome in November and the O'Connell Center in December.
On June 12, 2018, USF announced that Yuengling had purchased the naming rights to the facility and renamed it the Yuengling Center, effective July 1, 2018. The deal is slated for 10 years. The move was made official on July 1, 2018.
The Yuengling Center has undergone several minor expansions and alterations over the years along with two major renovations:
- In 2000, the original inflatable roof was replaced with a more conventional hard dome and additional facilities for USF indoor sports programs were added around the main arena at a cost of about $8 million (about $11.6 million in 2018 dollars).
- In 2011, USF began a major renovation of the Yuengling Center at a cost of $35.6 million ($39.6 million in 2018 dollars). Among other interior improvements, this renovation reconfigured the seating area to make the facility ADA compliant and added a large center hung scoreboard, a team store, and a new concourse level with concessions and restrooms. On the outside, original exterior concrete was repaired, bricks were added to some portions of the façade, and the entrance gates were improved. This project was completed in April 2012.
In addition to USF sporting events, the Yuengling Center hosts USF commencement ceremonies along with many concerts, shows, and special events over the years. It has been the site of live events by WWE, such as Saturday Night's Main Event in December 1985 and December 1988, and the 1995 Royal Rumble. The UFC also made their debut in the arena in February 2009 with UFC Fight Night: Lauzon vs Stephens. Bellator Fighting Championships has also held a number of events at the Yuengling Center.
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