TAMPA — Six years after undergoing a massive renovation, the most prominent structure on USF's campus is set for another radical change.
Effective July 1, the USF Sun Dome will be re-named the Yuengling Center.
The school and Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, the Jeff Vinik-controlled group that manages and operates the facility, announced Tuesday they have reached a 10-year agreement with D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc., for naming rights to the 10,500-seat arena.
Terms of the agreement weren't immediately available, though USF is expected to receive an annual amount in the high six figures. TBEP receives 35 percent of USF's annual naming rights licensing net profit, according to the contract it signed with the school in May 2017.
"We are so excited to welcome the Yuengling family to the USF family," USF interim athletic director Scott Kull told an audience of boosters, administrators and athletic department staffers Tuesday inside a Sun Dome club area.
"This is a momentous and transformative day for USF as we formally announce our partnership with one of America's most admired family-owned companies."
While creating a fresh revenue stream for USF's athletic department, the partnership raises immediate image concerns in light of the perpetual issue of alcohol consumption — particularly underage drinking — on university campuses nationwide.
As part of Tuesday's announcement, Yuengling — which has a brewery roughly a mile from campus — and USF announced a series of social-responsibility initiatives to be implemented prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year.
Among them are a new designated-driver program at athletic events and concerts, and a USF Student Government Association partnership with Lyft that offers student discounts for the ride-sharing service on weekends.
"I think part of this partnership and part of the negotiations were to include social responsibility in education," said Jennifer Yuengling, vice president of operations for D.G. Yuengling & Son. "So that's what we're moving forward with."
Beer already is sold at all of USF's major home sporting events including football (Raymond James Stadium), men's and women's basketball (Sun Dome), baseball (USF Baseball Stadium) and softball (USF Softball Stadium).
"Certainly (the partnership with a brewery) was something that we talked about, but … we've been pouring (beer) in this building for 20 years," Kull said.
"There's a great foundation; we have great student leadership. We haven't had any issues in the Sun Dome. So I have no doubt that through continual education and involving the right people, it will continue to be a successful partnership with Yuengling."
Tuesday's announcement continues a noticeably growing trend of NCAA-affiliated schools either partnering with alcohol-related companies or approving the sales of alcohol at sporting events.
The University of Colorado men's and women's basketball teams play inside the Coors Events Center on campus, and more than three-dozen schools have approved the sale of beer to the general public at their respective football stadiums.
For the past three years, beer and wine have been sold at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., and the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. Currently, four of the nation's five power conferences have no blanket alcohol policy, leaving it to the discretion of each of their member institutions.
The lone exception is the Southeastern Conference, which prohibits the sale of alcohol in general-seating areas, though five of its 14 schools (including the University of Florida) sell beer or wine in premium seating areas during football games.
"As part of this partnership, we pledge to educate the students of USF, local residents, visitors and Tampa at large about ways to drink responsibly," Yuengling said.
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.