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USF plans major Sun Dome revamp

As USF continues work on one massive upgrade of the school's athletic facilities, the next step is taking shape, with bids being taken for the architectural work on a major $35 million renovation of the Sun Dome arena slated for next year.

The Sun Dome, which turns 30 years old next month, is home to USF's basketball and volleyball teams, as well as frequent concerts and other public events. Under the terms of a "request for proposal" posted Friday on USF's official site, the construction would take place from March 2011 to November 2011, so USF's basketball teams would open their 2011-12 seasons off-campus, likely at the St. Pete Times Forum.

USF has not secured funding for the renovation but will hire an architectural firm when the posting ends Nov. 30, with bids for construction management expected to go out in about two weeks. The Sun Dome renovations would, according to the RFP, "extend the useful life of the Sun Dome for an additional 20 to 30 years." The construction has been budgeted at $28.5 million.

The renovations would include reconfiguring the 10,000-seat arena, including filling in the corners of the lowest bowl and establishing permanent seating on the second level, which allows for "club rooms and lounge boxes," as well as a concourse and concessions behind the seating.

The new plan also includes a center-hung scoreboard, with modifications to the entrances and restoration of the exterior concrete.

Such upgrades would "allow the Sun Dome to be at par and competitive with other NCAA Division I and Big East college basketball arenas," according to the RFP.

The Sun Dome upgrade would come immediately after an expansive upgrade to other campus facilities, with new baseball, softball and soccer stadiums due in 2011, along with a new basketball practice facility on the south side of the Sun Dome and three new practice fields for the football program.

USF plans major Sun Dome revamp 11/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 10:41pm]

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