Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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.

Sun Dome renovation helps transform USF Bulls basketball 03/28/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans previews 2017-18 NBA season, predicts Warriors will be dethroned


    Tampa isn't the greatest basketball market. In fact, it's just about the worst.

    Mike Evans and Jameis Winston celebrate after connecting for a touchdown against the Bears in September. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  3. Lightning's Steve Yzerman enjoying Nikita Kucherov's scoring run

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, celebrates after scoring a goal on the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  4. Bucs journal: Offense needs to get off to a faster start


    TAMPA — The past two games have seen the Bucs offense muster furious rallies in the fourth quarter of losses, with 229 yards against the Patriots and a franchise-record 27 points against the Cardinals.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  5. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues


    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]