SG close to $500K contract with Sun Dome

A win-win deal between Student Government (SG) and the USF Sun Dome could soon be finalized, allowing construction on the facility to be completed and SG to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Sun Dome is in negotiations with SG Senate President Khalid Hassouneh and student body president Matthew Diaz.

If the two sides come to an agreement, SG would pay as much as $500,000 in student-paid Activity and Service (A&S) fees to help complete Sun Dome renovations in exchange for the ability to host up to three events per year for 10 years at the Sun Dome, Hassouneh said.

Negotiations are ongoing, and terms could change to allow for more events and fewer years or vice versa.

Hassouneh, a senior majoring in medical technology, said, SG has paid between $20,000 and $25,000 per event to rent out the Sun Dome in the past. In previous years, SG has used the Sun Dome for events such as the annual Round Up, Spring Dance Concert and USF Week.

“Basically, President Diaz and I will make sure if we’re putting half a million in, we’re getting more than half a million back,” he said. “So that’s our condition for working with them.”

Hassouneh said the final return on investment could be more than $600,000.

The Sun Dome, which is currently lacking the funds for campus-themed graphics and other miscellaneous needs, is eager to finalize the deal, Hassouneh said.

“The President’s office approached us,” he said. “They really wanted it to happen. We have drawn a very firm line in the sand about what we want out of it. Honestly, if they did not need the money, I do not think it would be wise for them to sign this deal.”

Diaz and Hassouneh have been able to complete negotiations with Sun Dome officials, thanks to a bill passed by SG Senate on Tuesday night.

Hassouneh said the Board of Trustees made it “firm” that the project must be completed by April 15, in time for spring commencement.

“They need to have it soon in order to finish on time,” he said. “The Board of Trustees made it very firm that they have to finish the entire project by April 15, in time for commencement.”

The deal must be finalized by Jan. 8 for construction to stay on schedule.

At the Senate meeting, Sen. Adam Saunders voiced concerns over draining the unallocated cash account by more than half, given the possibility of a more desperate need for money in the future.

Hassouneh said SG has a separate reserve account with about $590,000 in A&S fees to deal with such emergencies.

Sen. Christina Hughes said she hoped Hassouneh and Diaz held out in the negotiations for the best deal.

“(With) the inconveniences that we’ve had to have moving our graduations, we’re giving them $500,000,” she said. “(Sun Dome) could at least give us five events per year.”

Sen. Lee Farrell said the bill was worth passing.

“This is, essentially, locking in a decent price today,” he said. “We know they are going to raise their prices once they’re done with reservations, which is what you do when you spend a ton of money, so our price locked in here would be even better. So, I really don’t see a downside to this.”