CHALLENGE. The University of South Florida’s Sun Dome was once the pinnacle of arenas in Florida, drawing major concerts to the Tampa Bay region and housing the university’s elite basketball programs. However, the 250,000 square foot facility had become outdated since opening in the 1970’s and was no longer competitive with other Big East arenas.
The $35 million renovation challenged Populous designers to reimagine the Sun Dome’s seating configuration, explore opportunities for unique amenities that would enhance the spectator experience and find a way to bring this historic facility back to prominence within the confines of the existing arena’s structure.
INNOVATION. The design team renovated the seating bowl by replacing the existing retractable bleachers with permanent seating, allowing space for an interior concourse with enhanced amenities and state-of-the-art premium spaces for the first time.
The arena is carefully planned with revenue generation in mind and features two club levels as well as sideline seating and loge boxes that put fans closer to the court than any other loge seating in a collegiate arena. The Sun Dome also features a student club at court level, another first in collegiate arena design. The renovation not only extends the life of the existing space, but sets the bar for Division I arenas in the region with substantive changes that makes the facility look – and feel – like new.
IMPACT. The USF Sun Dome is now one of the premier collegiate arenas in Division I athletics and has created a significant home court advantage for the Bulls, making it the ideal venue for athletes and a prime location for local events, concerts and community gatherings. In the first 6 months, the Sun Dome has attracted major performers, including Elton John and Florence & the Machine, and is once again a destination in Central Florida for athletes, fans and performers alike.