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Sun Dome accused of poor acoustics, defends renovations

The Sun Dome received criticism this weekend after the Fresh Music Festival, where performers and the audience complained about the sound, and even went so far as to stop the performance by chanting fix it, fix it.

The Sun Dome is finishing its $35 million renovation project in preparation for its grand opening in Sept. 14 with an Elton John concert. The new facelift for the Sun Dome includes a massive restructuring of its arena into a bowl-shaped style seating arrangement to improve acoustics, as well as other aesthetic features.

Despite the renovations, however, there were a number of complaints from those who attended Saturdays concert.

The performance, starring R&B artists such as Keith Sweat, Guy, SWV and K-Ci & JoJo, received criticism on its Facebook page, with comments such as the sound was messed up also the lighting blinded us at some points and USF, get your sound system right.

The sound was by no mean optimum, Trent Merritt, Sun Dome general manager, said. The biggest misconception is that the sound equipment is ours. The equipment, though nothing was wrong with it, was not ours. It belonged to the tour.

Merritt said that the majority of equipment seen by concertgoers belongs to the tour and is operated by technicians on sound and lighting boards. Merritt said the sound technicians at the July 7 event were not the usual technicians the tour had used at previous events.

The sound system and the sound technicians are the most important factors, he said.

Acoustics can only reflect how the music is produced by the equipment and the technician.

Before Elton John comes to the grand opening Sept. 14, Lapendary sound absorption material will be installed in the arena, completing the last of the renovations. This improvement should help with any acoustic problems, but was scheduled prior to problems at the Fresh Music Festival. Merritt said the money spent on the renovations was absolutely worth it.

Our biggest challenge is engaging students and making them feel at home, he said. Merritt said the Sun Dome tries to appeal to all tastes and books events accordingly catering to rock n roll lovers, country fans and rap enthusiasts alike.

Future events at the Sun Dome include a Florence and the Machine concert Sept. 25 and MythBusters: Behind the Myths Tour on Oct. 13. Event and ticket information can be found on the Sun Domes official website,

Despite the criticisms, Merritt said the Sun Dome has not changed its marketing strategies or plans for its grand opening.

[Saturdays criticisms] dont affect our marketing at all, he said. We move on to the next event, booking shows and selling tickets. We always want to get better and get customer feedback.