Coordinates: 28°03′33.25″N 82°24′23.30″W / 28.0592361°N 82.4064722°W / 28.0592361; -82.4064722

Yuengling Center
Former namesUSF Sun Dome (1980–2018)
Location12499 USF Bull Run Dr
Tampa, FL 33617
OwnerUniversity of South Florida
OperatorTampa Bay Entertainment Properties, LLC, a division of Vinik Sports Group, LLC
Capacity10,411
SurfaceQuickLock Portable Floor (northern hard maple)
Construction
Broke ground1977
OpenedNovember 29, 1980
Renovated
  • 1993
  • 2000
  • 2011
Construction cost$12 million
($51.2 million in 2020 dollars[1])
ArchitectBarger + Dean Architects, Inc.
Tenants
South Florida Bulls men's basketball (1980–2011, 2012–present)
South Florida Bulls women's basketball (1980–2011, 2012–present)
South Florida Bulls volleyball (1980–present)
WWE (pro-wrestling) (2021–present)

Yuengling Center (formerly the USF Sun Dome) is an indoor arena on the campus of the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida. It was built, starting in 1977 and was completed on November 29, 1980. It is located in USF's Athletics District on the southeast side of campus and is home to the South Florida Bulls men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams, as well as USF's commencement ceremonies. It is the fourth-largest basketball arena by capacity in the American Athletic Conference.

The stadium currently hosts the professional wrestling promotion WWE in a residency that began on April 12, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion broadcasts its television shows and pay-per-views from a behind closed doors set called the WWE ThunderDome, following a previous residency at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field.

History

Before the Yuengling Center, USF's basketball teams played at various locations on and off campus. The basketball teams first played at Curtis Hixon Hall in downtown Tampa, and later split their home schedule between Curtis Hixon Hall, the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg, Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds, and the USF Gymnasium on campus, among others.[2]

By 1975, both the University of South Florida and the University of Florida in Gainesville had decided to build new on-campus indoor sports facilities. The two schools pooled their resources and shared the cost of a basic arena design to stretch limited state funding. The "core unit" of the Sun Dome and UF's O'Connell Center were nearly identical, and they each featured a flexible, inflatable roof made of Teflon and supported by a system of blowers. However, the O'Connell Center included facilities for other sports around the main arena while the Sun Dome as originally built did not.[3] These were added in later expansions.

The $12 million Sun Dome broke ground in November 1977 on formerly open land on the southeast side of campus near Fowler Avenue. Construction was slowed on both the Sun Dome and the O'Connell Center when cracks appeared in precast concrete support beams.[4] The problems were eventually fixed, and the sister facilities were completed within a few weeks of each other in late 1980 – the Sun Dome in November and the O'Connell Center in December.[3]

The first two events at the new arena were a USF men's basketball game against Florida A&M and a concert by Alice Cooper.[5]

In 2000, the original inflatable roof was replaced with a more conventional hard dome and additional facilities for USF indoor sports programs were added around the main arena at a cost of about $8 million (about $12 million in 2020 dollars).[1]

In 2011, USF began a major renovation of the Yuengling Center at a cost of $35.6 million. Among other interior improvements, this renovation reconfigured the seating area to make the facility ADA compliant and added a large center hung scoreboard, a team store, and a new concourse level with concessions and restrooms. On the outside, original exterior concrete was repaired, bricks were added to some portions of the façade, and the entrance gates were improved. This project was completed in April 2012.[6][7]

In 2017, USF announced that the Sun Dome's management would be taken over by Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, via Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, LLC.[8][9] On June 12, 2018, USF announced a 10-year naming rights deal with brewer Yuengling, effective July 1, 2018.[10][11]

In April 2021, WWE began a long-term residency at Yuengling Center, broadcasting its shows from a behind closed doors set called the WWE ThunderDome; this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic following a previous residency at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field.

The Corral

The Corral opened in 1995 as the home to the Bulls volleyball team. The Corral spans 11,500 square feet on the west side of the arena with a capacity of up to 1,000 fans.[12] Prior to the opening of The Corral, the volleyball team used the same area as the men's and women's basketball teams for their games.

Events

In addition to USF sporting events, the Yuengling Center hosts USF's commencement ceremonies along with many concerts, shows, and special events.

Combat sports

WWE has hosted several professional wrestling events at the Sun Dome; it hosted Saturday Night's Main Event for the first time in 1985, and hosted the pay-per-view Royal Rumble in 1995 (which notably saw Shawn Michaels become the first person entering at number 1 to win the titular Royal Rumble match by outlasting all 29 of the other participants).[13] On March 24, 2021, WWE announced that it would move its ThunderDome residency—a bubble that it has used to film its weekly programs Raw and SmackDown, as well as pay-per-views, due to the COVID-19 pandemic—to Yuengling Center beginning with the April 12 Raw, following WrestleMania 37 (which was held at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium). The ThunderDome was relocated from Tropicana Field due to the start of the Tampa Bay Rays' 2021 season; as before, programs produced at the arena are produced behind closed doors with no in-person audience.[14] WWE will remain at the Yuengling Center until mid-July when they will resume live touring.[15][16][17]

UFC hosted UFC Fight Night: Lauzon vs Stephens at the Sun Dome on February 7, 2009.[18] The Sun Dome also hosted Bellator 72 and 94 in 2012 and 2013 respectively.[19][20]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b 1634 to 1699: Harris, P. (1996). "Inflation and Deflation in Early America, 1634–1860: Patterns of Change in the British American Economy". Social Science History. 20 (4): 469–505. JSTOR 1171338. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  2. ^ "media guide 1920 FINAL (PDF)" (PDF). USF Athletics. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  3. ^ a b Walbolt, Dan (Interviewee) and Huse, Andrew T. (Interviewer), Dan Walbolt oral history interview by Andrew Huse, July 13, 2004 (2004).Digital Collection - USF Historical Archives Oral Histories. Paper 194.
  4. ^ Keen, Larry (March 26, 1983). "State Plans Lawsuit Over O'Connell Center Defects". Gainesville Sun. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  5. ^ Center, Yuengling. "About | Yuengling Center". www.yuenglingcenter.com. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  6. ^ "Renovated USF Sun Dome earns positive marks as concert-friendly venue". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  7. ^ "Sun Dome Reopens; Is A Campus Football Stadium in USF's Future?". WUSF Public Media. 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  8. ^ "Sun Dome no more: After years of struggle, can the new Yuengling Center find a soul?". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  9. ^ "Jeff Vinik group to manage USF Sun Dome". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  10. ^ Knight, Joey (12 June 2018). "Yuengling secures USF Sun Dome naming rights". tampabay.com. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  11. ^ Roa, Ray (June 12, 2018). "Tampa's USF Sun Dome will change name to Yuengling Center". Creative Loafing. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  12. ^ "The Corral". USF Athletics. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  13. ^ "As it courts Wrestlemania, Tampa can boast some major wrestling moments". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  14. ^ Williams, Randall (2021-03-24). "WWE Moves ThunderDome to USF's Yuengling Center". Sportico.com. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  15. ^ Otterson, Joe (May 21, 2021). "WWE to Return to Live Touring in July". Variety. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  16. ^ Currier, Joseph (May 21, 2021). "WWE RETURNING TO TOURING THIS JULY, FIRST THREE EVENTS ANNOUNCED". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  17. ^ Laboon, Jeff (May 21, 2021). "WWE returns to Live Events with 25-city tour beginning July 16". WWE. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  18. ^ "Neer, Danzig, Velasquez and Lauzon each earn $30K UFN 17 bonuses". MMAJunkie.com. February 7, 2009. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
  19. ^ "Bellator 72 Results, Fight Card and News - MMA Fighting". www.mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  20. ^ "Bellator 94 Results, Fight Card and News - MMA Fighting". www.mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2021-03-24.