Sun Dome ranks nationally after year of rennovation

Following a year that included a $35.6 million renovation and highly anticipated performances, such as those of Elton John and Florence and the Machine, the USF Sun Dome placed No. 5 in the 2012 University Top Stops by Venues Today magazine.

The ranking, based on total gross sales, total attendance and the number of shows in 2012, ranked the Sun Dome, which was open for six months in 2012 after the completion of major renovations, in its category of a 10,001-15,000 audience capacity.

Renovations to the Sun Dome began immediately after approval of the USF Board of Trustees in late 2011. Soon after renovations began, USF also contracted Global Spectrum, a Comcast-Spectacor subsidiary, for booking acts.

Since reopening, the Sun Dome held performances by Elton John, Florence + the Machine, Wiz Khalifa and many more. Other events that have been held at the new Sun Dome include family-friendly shows, such as Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music and Mythbusters: Behind the Myths Tour.

Trent Merritt, general manager for Global Spectrum at the Sun Dome, said the Sun Dome previously had lighting and sound systems from 1993, noisy bleachers for student seating, the building was covered in chipped paint and a roof which was stained from mildew.

Just walk around the building and youll already see the results, Merritt said.

Merritt said the arena now includes 10,000 seats, a new sound system, sports lighting with a shutter system, four large video boards and more.

We will continue to do basic maintenance and repairs but there wont be any more major renovations for a while, Merritt said. We are happy with the results.

Immediately after reopening, the Sun Dome received criticism from audience complaints at the Fresh Music Festival due to problems with the sound equipment and technician. However, the Sun Dome rebounded by September with a sold-out grand opening featuring Elton John.

John OConnor, a freshman majoring in biology, said he attended shows before and after the renovations, and the renovations were a large improvement.

I feel like its much different than the old Sun Dome, he said. I think they did a really nice job.

Within the next few months, the Sun Dome will be hosting events ranging from USF basketball games, the American Cheer Power Tournament and Chris Tomlins Burning the Lights Tour.