Friday, May 25, 2018
Sports

Sun Dome renovation helps transform USF Bulls basketball

TAMPA — When Stan Heath became USF's basketball coach five years ago, he heard about the school investing in the program, about a new practice facility and renovations to the Sun Dome, its home since 1980.

Standing in the Muma Center on Wednesday, USF's new practice facility, Heath smiled as he talked about the upcoming completion of a $35 million Sun Dome makeover.

"Five years ago, none of this existed. It was just a conversation," said Heath, whose team played most of this season's home games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"To see it come to fruition is amazing. A lot of people say things; they're going to do this, going to do that. To watch how quickly things have changed here is just so impressive. It doesn't get much better than this."

Heath and athletic director Doug Woolard gave the media a hard-hat tour of the Sun Dome, which is in the final stages of the renovation paid for by the university.

The arena is barely recognizable with a new lower bowl, fixed second level with concourses beneath, baseline-to-baseline club level on one side, 10 loge suites on the other and center-hung scoreboard.

Paired with USF's first NCAA Tournament appearance this season in 20 years (and first-ever tournament victories), it's a huge surge of momentum for Heath's program, which tied for fourth in the Big East after being picked to finish 14th by league coaches.

"From a recruiting standpoint, it's a slam dunk," Heath said of the improved facilities. "It's going to make a world of difference in our recruiting and our program going forward. I can't tell you how many coaches from five years ago were telling me, 'Man, that's a tough job; I don't know if you want to take that job,' to now, 'Man, you've got a great job.'

"You live in a great environment. You've got great facilities, great support. It's really turned into a special, special place."

The Sun Dome is the latest in a wave of facility upgrades at USF over the past 14 months, including new stadiums for baseball and softball as well as the Muma Center and new football practice fields.

"As much as the other athletic venues have surpassed my best hopes, this has even surpassed that," Woolard said.\

"I think when people come in and see this building, they're going to say, 'Are you kidding me?' "

And the 10,000 new seats aren't the only thing green about the Sun Dome. USF says 92 percent of the debris removed from the renovation was recycled — more than 10 million pounds — and new measures will reduce energy costs by 26 percent and water usage by 40 percent.

USF plans to hold a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony May 2, and the arena is scheduled to host commencement ceremonies May 4-5. The Bulls are expected to hold a "Midnight Madness" for fans built around the first practice in October and could have as many as 18 home games in 2012-13.

Comments
Calvary Christian’s record win streak ends in state final

Calvary Christian’s record win streak ends in state final

FORT MYERS — One of the most impressive streaks in high school baseball came to an end early Friday morning.Calvary Christian lost the Class 4A state championship 5-1 to Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian at Hammond Stadium in a game that ended ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Updated: 4 hours ago
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechki...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and don’t panic

Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and don’t panic

TAMPA — Don't change a thing.Don't blow it up. Don't fire anyone. Don't overreact.Thursday was not an easy day in Lightning Land. It was the day after the end of a season that ended much too soon. It was a day when bags were packed, questions w...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

TAMPA — Hours before the puck dropped at Amalie Arena for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the ice crew boss talked about putting off any sign of the end for as long as possible."We don’t want to see the front-end loaders," says Tom Miracle, ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

TAMPA — Not surprisingly, several Lightning players went through the playoffs with what general manager Steve Yzerman called "significant injuries."He would not elaborate Thursday on who they were, though he said that information will be made p...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Updated: 8 hours ago