Yuengling Goes To College

USF arena naming deal includes new social responsibility programs on campus

  • by Tim Newcomb
  • Published: June 13, 2018

A rendering shows the Yuengling name on what has been known as the USF Sun Dome. (Courtesy Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties)

The University of South Florida has served alcohol in its arena for roughly two decades, so it wasn’t a stretch when the university announced a 10-year naming-rights deal for the USF Sun Dome in Tampa to become the Yuengling Center on July 1. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Brokered by arena operator Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, the agreement between the university and Pennsylvania-based D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., touted as America’s oldest brewery, includes the naming of the center and signs in Raymond James Stadium for home USF football games and at baseball and softball games, along with a host of ticket and hospitality packages for sporting events. The company has a brewery in Tampa.

The deal comes with an agreement on social responsibility regarding alcohol consumption that will bring new and enhanced programs to campus.

The on-campus facility taking the name of a brewer doesn’t come as a first—the University of Colorado’s Coors Event Center, an 11,000-seat arena in Boulder, has partnered with Coors since the 1990s—but it offers what’s still a nontraditional take on naming rights in college sports as some universities wrestle with how to handle alcohol at sporting events.

Brian Siegrist, USF associate athletic director, wrote in an email that the school views D.G. Yuengling & Son as a “unique and very strong community partner and not just a brewery.” USF has served Yuengling in the Sun Dome for more than a year, and with the Tampa brewery within blocks of the campus, “they have demonstrated commitment to being a strong partner in the community and a desire to build on that to become even more so, thus we felt this was a good fit.”

Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties plans to implement new initiatives with USF prior to the start of the new school year, including support of a campuswide Lyft partnership expanded by Yuengling financial backing; support for alcohol-free student events designed to welcome students to campus the first 50 days of the school year; enhancement by Yuengling of campus programming during National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week; in-venue signs and activations around social responsibility; engagement and financial support of student organizations that can further these causes; and a new designated driver program at athletic events and concerts, based at kiosks at gates A and D of the center.

“In Tampa Bay and across the country, the Yuengling family is known for its commitment to the community,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft in a statement. “We are grateful to have such a well-known and reputable family associated with USF. We especially appreciate the efforts to promote corporate and social responsibility as part of this new affiliation.”

The Sun Dome has served alcohol for 20 years. Alcohol is also served at Raymond James Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for USF football games.

The effort to sign a naming-rights sponsor was one of the first orders of business taken on by Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, formed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner and Amalie Arena leasehold rights holder Jeff Vinik, when the organization partnered with USF in July.

“Upon assuming management of the Sun Dome and the multimedia rights for USF Athletics, we identified the joint priority of selling naming rights to arena,” said Steve Griggs, chief executive officer for Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, in a statement. The company is the parent of Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties.

“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,” he said.

References to Sun Dome, the arena’s name since it opened in 1980, will be replaced with Yuengling Center, in and on the facility, on campus and on all local signs. A new Yuengling Center logo is being created, and a script font will adorn the outside of the facility.

Siegrist said they aim to have easily transferrable elements updated by early July and the larger exterior signage in place by the start of the fall semester.

The site is home to USF men’s and women’s basketball teams and the USF volleyball team. The 55,000-square-foot multipurpose facility includes a 10,500-seat arena and has had $43 million in renovations since 2000, including replacement of the original Teflon inflatable roof with a permanent structure.

Yuengling is available in 22 states, and two breweries in Pottsville, Pa., and the third in Tampa, in operation since 1999, support production of Yuengling Traditional Lager and a host of other beers. 

“We are very excited to extend our presence in the Tampa community to include the partnership with USF and the Yuengling Center,” Jen Yuengling of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. said in a statement. “Beyond naming rights, we’ll continue to support the greater Tampa community and on the campus of USF with the popular Handshake Internship Program, a scholarship for a veteran to attend USF’s Brewery Arts Program, and upcoming social responsibility initiatives.”

J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida Inc., which distributes Yuengling products locally, will assume a leadership role in assuring all elements of the partnership agreement are executed, including social responsibility and community programming.

  • by Tim Newcomb
  • Published: June 13, 2018