TAMPA (FOX 13) - Change is brewing at the University of South Florida. After 38 years, the Sun Dome is getting a brand new name and it's one that's been in Tampa for decades.
On July 1, it will officially become the Yuengling Center. University and Yuengling officials made the announcement Tuesday afternoon. USF President Judy Genshaft called it a "historic day" for the school.
USF Interim Athletic Director Scott Kull said, "It's transformative for us. I mean, to be associated with a national brand like Yuengling, it's just huge."
The 200-year-old Yuengling Brewery based in Pottsville, Pennsylvania has been brewing beer in Tampa for nearly 20 years, less than a mile from USF at the old Stroh's brewery.
"We're super pumped and excited about what they are doing with the athletic department," said Jennifer Yuengling, VP of Operations at Yuengling. "My sisters and I, we're 6th generation. We really consider Tampa to be our second home. Tampa has become one of our largest markets. Tampa's our largest brewery."
The naming rights contract runs for at least the next 10 years. A benefit of selling naming rights is the money; potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars coming back to USF.
Aside from the Coors Events Center at the University of Colorado, it's rare for a university to pair with a beer manufacturer, with concerns about underage drinking.
USF and Yuengling say this partnership will also be focused on alcohol education.
"We've been pouring responsibly in this building for 20 years," said Kull. "But we're going to continue to work with our student leaders, Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, the leadership on this campus, to make sure that we're continually educating people in the proper manner. We've got some great programs in place."
That includes using kiosks at gates A and D for messaging, adding designated rideshare locations and creating Yuengling-funded initiatives for the student body.
“Upon assuming management of the Sun Dome and the multimedia rights for USF Athletics we identified the joint priority of selling naming rights to the arena,” said Steve Griggs, Chief Executive Officer for Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of TBEP. “And we pledged to the University that we would identify a reputable company with solid leadership and a strong local presence, one that USF would be proud to call a sponsor. D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., led by the Yuengling family, will prove to be a great partner for the University and its constituents.”
Over 38 years, the USF Sun Dome has played a wide variety of roles, like hosting legendary performers like Elton John, giving evacuees shelter during storms, hosting political speeches, and celebrating thousands of graduates.
It's a new name for a new era at USF as the sun sets on the Sun Dome.