The USF Sun Dome is well established as an entertainment venue, having hosted famous speakers, athletes and musical acts. However, its parking lot also plays host to numerous potholes.
Matt D’Andrea, a junior who has not decided on a major, said he parks in the arena’s lot about five times per week, a decision that may be taking a toll on his vehicle.
“I might have to buy a Jeep to get over the terrain near the Sun Dome,” he said jokingly.
But this is a problem that is not easily solved. Manuel Lopez, director of Parking and Transportation Services (PATS), said repairing the parking lot is difficult because of nearby construction projects.
“We’re aware that the Sun Dome is a high priority for us,” he said. “What makes it complicated is that there’s so much construction going on there. The lot is so big that it would be a huge financial investment to repave.”
With the expansion of the adjacent Recreation Center and a new dining facility, projects that are projected for completion by July, Lopez said repaving the lot now would be pointless. Even without a set date, Lopez said that if the project is ever funded and agreed upon, PATS would have the area repaved when it would have the least impact on students – primarily during holidays, spring break or the summer.
The cost to repave the Sun Dome’s parking lot, which is based on an estimate made several years ago, is surprising, he said.
“We looked at (the cost) three or four years ago before some of the construction started occurring in that area. At that time, it looked to be over $1 million,” he said. “We’ve been looking at doing something, but it makes no sense to spend that kind of money on something that may be torn down with construction.”
Frank Granda, operations manager for PATS, said he does not remember the last time the Sun Dome parking lot was paved.
“I’ve been with the department for 10 years, and it hasn’t been repaved within the time frame that I’ve been here,” he said.
Though the arena’s parking lot will have to wait for improvements anytime soon, PATS is working on smaller lots on campus that are less costly and faster to fix.
“The parking office is constantly looking at parking lots,” Lopez said. “We repaved eight (on-campus) lots last year. Every year, we go from those in the worst shape and work back.”
Lopez said PATS plans to repave five lots across campus.
“We’re looking at a few lots,” Lopez said. “Lots 29 A and B near the Library, and 32, 33 and 19 by the health area. There’s a schedule of lots we plan on working on.”