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The USF Sun Dome Marks its 35th Anniversary

The USF Sun Dome, located on the campus of the University of South Florida, marked its 35th Anniversary on November 29, 2015.

Photo by Aimee Blodgett

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 23, 2015) – The USF Sun Dome, located on the campus of the University of South Florida, marked its 35th Anniversary on November 29, 2015.

With the Sun Dome first opening its doors on November 29, 1980 as the USF Men’s Basketball team played host to FAMU, the event marked the beginning of an era, with the venue becoming the pinnacle of arenas not only in the Tampa Bay region, but in the state of Florida as a whole. It was the first venue of its size in the area.

Throughout the 1980’s and ‘90s, the Sun Dome quickly became “the place to play” for concerts and shows, as the arena hosted an array of acts in the ‘80s that included its first concert with Alice Cooper, Marvin Gaye, U2, Madonna, Sting, Jimmy Buffett, Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, The Beach Boys, ACDC, Elton John, and many more.

The 1990’s brought acts that included Garth Brooks, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, PHISH, Tom Petty, Jay Z, Santana, Steely Dan, Brooks & Dunn, and Enrique Iglesias to name a few.

To use a sports metaphor, ‘A game changer’...For the academic community, as well as, the Tampa Bay Community, the Sun Dome became the “go to” place for not only graduation ceremonies and sporting events, but equally important to the community, it was our concert hall,” said Steve Oscher, Chair of the Sun Dome, Inc. Board of Directors. “During the 80’s into the 90’s, every major artist that came through Tampa was booked at the Sun Dome. From Sinatra and Pavarotti to Jimmy Buffett, Green Day, Garth Brooks, and Elton John, tickets to these concerts created countless friends for USF.”

In addition to concerts, shows, commencements, and sporting events, the Sun Dome also played host to numerous political figures and rallies during this time, including the likes of President Ronald Regan in October of 1986.

In 2000, the Sun Dome underwent an $8 million renovation as the venue’s air supported roof was replaced by a steel frame supported roof.

May 2012 brought the re-opening of the USF Sun Dome following a $35.6 million renovation that involved a reconfiguration of seating to create a capacity of over 10,000, adding a center hung scoreboard, concourse level with concessions and restrooms, media center, new performer dressing rooms, LED ribbon boards and 4 large video corner boards, as well as premium spaces, including 10 luxury loge suites, the Meyer Family Hardwood Club, the Coca-Cola Student Club, and the Arena Club.

Since the grand re-opening, the Sun Dome has once again become one of the premier facilities to host concerts, shows, and sporting events in the Tampa Bay area. Over the past 3 years, following its grand re-opening concert with Elton John, the venue has hosted a variety of first class events including Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy, Alan Jackson, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mary J. Blige, Florence and the Machine, Chris Tomlin, Charlie Wilson, Gabriel Iglesias, Wiz Khalifa, Katt Williams, Don Omar, Prince Royce, Big Sean, and the Avett Brothers to name a few. The Sun Dome has also hosted numerous televised events, with Premier Boxing Champions most recently taking place this past July airing on primetime ESPN.

“I feel very fortunate that our team has been able to play a small part in the history of this great arena,” said Spectra’s Trent Merritt, Regional Vice President and General Manager of the USF Sun Dome. “On behalf of Spectra, the Sun Dome staff, and all our partners and supporters I’d like to commend and thank the University of South Florida for their vision and commitment in renovating the Sun Dome into a fantastic arena. A big thanks to all of those patrons who have come through our doors over the last 35 years. We’re looking forward to an exciting USF basketball season, concerts and many more successful years ahead of us!”

As a result of the venue’s level of success in booking events, the Sun Dome has been ranked by Venues Today Magazine as the #2 Venue in the state of Florida the past three years and the #5 University Venue in the nation the past two years within its size category.

As host to both the USF Men’s and Women’s basketball teams, along with USF Women’s Volleyball in the Corral Gymnasium, fans have witnessed the success of all three teams under the Sun Dome roof. Most recently, the Sun Dome played host to the first two rounds of the 2015 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, a first in venue history. The USF Women’s Basketball team took on LSU and Louisville with a packed house offering a great home court advantage atmosphere. The USF Men’s Basketball team has also seen success at the venue, reaching the NCAA Tournament on three occasions and tying a program record for wins in 2011-12 with 22, including a 14-2 record at the Sun Dome. This season, the USF Women’s Volleyball team moved from the Corral onto the main arena floor as the venue hosted the USF Volleyball Tournament on September 18-19 and the USF vs. UCF match on November 4th.

Thirty-five years later to the date, it was only fitting that the USF Men’s Basketball team once again took to the court as the Bulls play Savannah State on Sunday, November 29th at 2:00PM. This Wednesday, the nationally ranked USF Women’s team takes on Butler University at 7:00PM.

Throughout the rest of the year, the USF Sun Dome will continue to celebrate the past 35 years by bringing top notch athletic events and shows to the Tampa Bay area. Upcoming shows include Legends of the Old School with Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Pepa, 2 Live Crew, and more on December 4th, Katt Williams on February 6th, Hillsong United on February 13th, and George Takei, presented by the USF College of Arts and Sciences, on April 18th.

Between basketball and volleyball games, concerts, family shows, political speeches, and graduations, the USF Sun Dome continues to make its mark on the University of South Florida campus and looks forward to bringing first class events to the Tampa Bay area for another 35 years.

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