- Chris Green
Yuengling Center – South Florida Bulls
Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Yuengling Center 4202 E Fowler Ave Tampa, FL 33620
Year Opened: 1980
Tampa Basketball Fever
Tampa is a college town – it may not look like it on the outside, but there are deep ties to collegiate athletics in this city. USF is a big part of that in recent years, thanks to bouts of success across various sports, and because of this the local fan base has steadily grown to one that is quietly one of the best in the state of Florida. The school’s basketball team is part of this culture. Often overlooked by their bigger neighbors in the state, USF’s fans are just as loyal and proud as the rest of them. Playing in an arena that, when packed, provides a loud home court advantage, the Bulls have given reason for their fans to cheer in the past, and the excitement on the court is what keeps fans coming back game after game.
Food & Beverage 3
Multiple concessions stands dot the arena’s main concourse. From burgers to pretzels, fans can pick up snacks or a main meal at the arena. All items are under $10, which automatically puts USF basketball at the low end of concessions prices. Beer and sodas are also available at all stands, with large fountain drinks running only $7. The only downside here is the lack of variety.
Once inside Yuengling Center you are immediately reminded of some of the great college basketball arenas. Its towering ceiling and bowl seating harkens to those halcyon days of the past where college basketball was played in the 80s. Thankfully, the seating is a bit better than those days as well. While the color palate inside and out is beige and green, it still fits with the feeling of USF. The area’s construction also echoes sound well, meaning even a meager crowd can sound like a packed house to the visiting team.
Inside the arena, a large team store greets fans, offering hats, shirts, and all manner of USF items for sale. This is an often-missed aspect of an arena in smaller college markets. Once the game starts, the standard fare greets fans; from the college band in the end zone to the hype video player introductions, the whole event feels like a standard college basketball game.
Yuengling Center Team Store, Photo by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
To get to USF, a trip north on I-75 will take you near the arena. Located adjacent to Busch Gardens Tampa, the USF campus is easy to find even when exiting the highway, thanks to plentiful signage. The campus itself has multiple hotels and restaurants nearby, thanks in part to its theme park neighbor.
However, Tampa itself has become a hotbed of foodie culture lately, meaning finding food in the area during your visit shouldn’t be difficult. Local options like Taco Dirty and Fresh Kitchen offer fans a variety of food options. While hotels are located nearby, fans can also opt for something near the downtown area as well, located just 15 minutes from campus.
The fans at USF are loud and proud. While it may not always be a sell-out crowd, the games at Yuengling Center always feel busy thanks to the amplification of the crowd noise from the arena’s acoustics. That isn’t to say the fans aren’t loud themselves – on the contrary, USF fans feel like they have something to prove, and therefore bring their all when it comes to cheering for their Bulls. The biggest example of this is every time UCF visits for the War on I-4 matchup; the Bulls faithful make sure their neighbors to the east know that Tampa is USF territory.
Perhaps the best thing about the fans at USF games are the families. Young fans are a big part of the fanbase in Tampa, which only helps grow the team. Regardless of the record on the court, the youngest fans of USF are there to cheer on their favorite players, all the way from freshman year to their senior night games.
To park at Yuengling Center fans have multiple options. There is close, paid, easy-access parking available outside the door to the arena, while for big games, overflow lots surround the facility, meaning you will have plenty of places to park. In addition, the arena is also easy to navigate, as directional signage is plentiful throughout. Finding the arena is also not difficult as it is located just inside the south entrance to campus.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to USF games are inexpensive, especially when compared to the city’s pro sports options. For the same price as parking at a Buccaneers game, a family of four can have lower bowl seating at USF basketball. Also, given that Tampa Bay has no NBA franchise, USF represents the pinnacle of basketball in the greater Tampa Bay area. In addition, mid-major college basketball is some of the best in the country, so having the opportunity to watch some while staying in a warm, tropical paradise is well worth the visit in itself.
The team has a giveaways table at the entrance of all games, which always draws fans as they arrive on game day. You can also find the history of USF throughout the concourse inside the arena – on each wall is an infographic showing the school’s beginnings and highlights, both academic and athletic. Finally, the team’s mascot roams throughout the arena on game days, interacting with fans and posing for photos.
Yuengling Center Giveaway Table, Photo by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Though overlooked, USF is a proud college with many athletic achievements. USF basketball continues this proud tradition, offering fans the chance to watch some top-level college hoops for an affordable price. While not always packed full of fans, Yuengling Center no doubt deserves a visit whenever in the area.