Official Sun Dome Site
Nearly 50 universities granted R. Buckminster Fuller, one of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers, an honorary degree during his life.
The University of South Florida was not among them.
But USF has, unknowingly, created a tribute to Fuller, the man who was a scientist, a philosopher, an inventor, a designer, the man who coined the term “Spaceship Earth.”
Fuller was also the creator of the geodesic dome — an architectural design based upon his discovery that a triangle withstands pressure better and is twice as strong as a rectangle. He discovered that if a spherical structure was created from triangles, it would have unparalleled strength.
The USF Sun Dome, a 10,411-seat facility that is home to USF basketball, has taken one of Fuller’s most outstanding legacies and, over a six-month period in 2000, reinvented itself.
Built at a cost of $12 million between 1977 and 1980, the USF Sun Dome on the campus of the University of South Florida opened its doors in December, 1980.
The unique building design featured an air-supported roof made from a 90,000-square-foot translucent teflon-coated fiberglass fabric.
An $8 million construction project — begun in May and finished in October — utilizing Fuller’s design principles has recreated the USF Sun Dome and has allowed the 26-year-old facility to assume a prominent role in entertaining Tampa Bay and the entire central Florida region.
The centerpiece of the project is a steel-frame geodesic dome roof constructed from more than 3,000 beams and weighing more than 400 tons.
The 2005-06 campaign debuted the facility’s latest round of upgrades. High-definition video scoreboards were placed in each of the arena’s four corners in time for the inaugural BIG EAST season.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams also enjoyed the installation of a new playing surface in 2005. The QuickLock Portable Floor is made of northern hard maple and contains red power shok pads attached. The graphics feature the “USF” logo at mid-court and BIG EAST logos in the lane at both ends of the court.
Renovation of the USF Sun Dome’s interior has also included restrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms and office space. Features also include a $250,000 lighting system and a new audio system.
The USF Sun Dome is managed by Sun Dome Inc., a not-for-profit corporation. Beers Construction of Tampa was the primary contractor for the project.
The USF Sun Dome has hosted six NIT games as well as an NCAA sub-regional in 1983 with Arkansas, Illinois State, Kentucky, Ohio, Purdue, and Robert Morris.