USF Sun Dome

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USF Sun Dome
The USF Sun Dome
Location Bull Run Dr
Tampa, Florida 33620
Owner University of South Florida
Operator Global Spectrum
Capacity 10,411
Surface QuickLock Portable Floor
(northern hard maple)
Broke ground 1977
Opened November 29, 1980
Renovated 1993, 2000, 2011
Construction cost $12 million
($34.9 million in 2017 dollars[1])
Architect Barger + Dean Architects, Inc.
Populous (renovation)
South Florida Bulls
(Basketball & volleyball)

USF Sun Dome is a 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m2) multi-purpose facility on the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. It was built, starting in 1977 and was completed on November 29, 1980.

It is located on the southeastern side of campus, and is home to the men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams.

USF Sun Dome Interior
Interior of the USF Sun Dome.

The Sun Dome is a multi-purpose facility, hosting 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, wrestling, boxing, taekwondo tournaments, gymnastics and cheerleading competitions, commencement ceremonies, lectures and political rallies among other corporate, community and university events.


Before the Sun Dome, 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 USF's Sun Dome 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[2]

The first two events at the new arena were a USF men's basketball game against Florida A&M and a concert by Alice Cooper.


The Sun Dome has undergone several renovations over the years. One noteworthy change was the replacement of the original inflatable roof with a more conventional hard dome in 2000 at a cost of $8 million.

On June 8, 2011, the USF Board of Trustees approved a renovation of $35.6 million to the Sun Dome. The renovation plans include a reconfiguration of seating, adding a center hung scoreboard, adding a concourse level with concessions and restrooms, and restoration to the existing exterior concrete. The project was completed by April 2012.[4][5]


In addition to USF sporting events, the Sun Dome has 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 Sun Dome.


  1. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Walbolt, Dan (Interviewee) and Huse, Andrew T. (Interviewer), Dan Walbolt oral history interview by Andrew Huse, July 13, 2004 (2004).Digital Collection - USF Historical Archives Oral Histories. Paper 194.
  3. ^ Keen, Larry (March 26, 1983). "State Plans Lawsuit Over O'Connell Center Defects". Gainesville Sun. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Sun Dome Renovation Financing Approved". 

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Coordinates: 28°03′33.25″N 82°24′23.30″W / 28.0592361°N 82.4064722°W / 28.0592361; -82.4064722