USF considering building new basketball arena
Trying to move its basketball program forward in a competitive Big East conference, USF is studying the feasibility of building a new arena to replace the Sun Dome, the Bulls' home for the past 28 years.
USF athletic director Doug Woolard sent an e-mail to Bulls supporters Friday asking them to weigh in on an online survey to help the athletic department assess its options for updating the Sun Dome, either "through a major renovation or construction of a new facility."
USF executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis said Friday that the survey will help USF shape a master plan for upgrading athletic facilities that Woolard unveiled nearly four years ago.
"We are continuing to focus on the development of our facilities master plan," McGillis said in a statement. "A review of potential opportunities for improvement of the Sun Dome is one of several elements of our plan. Surveying our stakeholders will enable us to continue our early fact finding and gather information that will be beneficial in the future."
USF hired HOK Sports, a leading architect of sports arenas, to run a facility assessment of the overall condition of the Sun Dome, and has worked with Conventions Sports & Leisure (CSL), a national planning and advisory firm, to get a better sense of the market and financial feasibility for renovation or construction of a new arena.
The Sun Dome, opened in 1980, does not have any suites or premium seating options beyond its courtside seats. The Bulls, who joined the Big East in 2005, have had the league's lowest home men's basketball attendance in each of their three seasons, including an average of 5,123 fans last season Attendance has been down for USF's first three men's basketball home games this season, with an announced average of 2,957 fans.