Life After the Carrier Dome: The Four Biggest Keys to A Future Arena Solution

Here are the most important decisions that have to be made considering the future of the Dome.

Two weeks ago, columnist Sean Kirst of the Syracuse Post-Standard wrote a piece about life after the Carrier Dome. Would a new arena combine Syracuse basketball with Crunch hockey to replace the War Memorial? Syracuse University has one of the most unique setups in college sports: its football, basketball, and lacrosse teams play in the same building.

  • Timing: Plans for a new stadium/arena seem quite a bit down the road considering SU is still trying to piece together funds for the new indoor football practice facility. The Carrier Dome probably still has ten to fifteen years left if the university wanted to stretch out the Dome’s use. It’s 33 years old now, that would bring it to 45-50 year mark. The good news is the influx of money from the ACC could be used as a starting point between the university and the state when it comes to finding ways financially and logistically to build new facilities.
  • Location: The university realizes how important the destination is to fans, especially students. Students attendance has been poor for football for awhile, but many flock for big games because the stadium is on campus. Could SU one day build a new outdoor football stadium on South Campus? This way the students are only a bus ride away and the tailgating atmosphere will heighten tremendously. The bus system is already in place and it’s just a 5-minute ride, far easier than transporting students across the city.
  • High Capacity Arena: For the basketball arena, would the seating have to be cut down? Fans love having 30,000 screaming ticket holders inside the Dome for major Big East games. With ACC powerhouses on the schedule, one can only imagine what types of records will be broken. However, for most of the non-con schedule the Dome can feel too big. Maybe an arena around 25,000 would allow a more intimate setting, yet keeping the home court advantage that SU craves.
  • Outdoor vs. Indoor: Many fans like not freezing on a chilly November day. Players and coaches enjoy not having to worry about the weather. However, SU would benefit in several ways from having an open-air stadium. An outdoor environment would liven up the program and game day in particular. On warm days in the fall, fans want to be outside soaking up the sun and rather than stuck inside without air conditioning. Also, scheduling home games earlier in the season can help avoid cold weather issues late in the season. Other cold weather universities do it that way successfully and have created a rich football atmosphere.

The Carrier Dome has been the heart of the city for over three decades. However, the conversation is staring about what will come next after it is time to move on.

Posted: Zephan Mayell

26 Comments on this Post

  1. Russell MacEachern

    Breaking records for ACC games?I don’t understand maybe as I’m not a big hoops guy anymore but I thought the big crowds were due more to proximity than what conference were in?He’ll I don’t think anything will ever top BE crazieness within the ACC?Whose gonna travel(from Carolinas south) all the way up here in winter at night?Just look at BC!We may attempt to match it but I doubt ever surpass BE madness!Hopefully FB crowds will improve(but I need convincing)!At least the ACC payoff should offset any losses in attendance(if any)!Do we get a full share immediately?

  2. Russell MacEachern

    Maybe we could get a retractable roof?

  3. Not sure I agree on the open air stadium. Domed stadiums draw recruits from the south and kids at the skill positions. I don’t think we’d be having this discussion if NY state had more talent but we need these kids from Georgia….and we wouldn’t be getting them unless we had a dome. Russell has the right idea. Retractable roof…if we can afford it.

  4. Smitty Section 129

    I’m a big fan of football being played outside but the reality of living in Upstate New York the weather is to unpredictable. Although there is a few games each year where you say boy how great would this be if the game was outside but you also have games where it is either raining, snowing or just plain cold and your walking up to the Dome saying how nice is this to be able to go inside and watch the game in a tee shirt. The one positive of going outside would be that all the old timers that tell everyone to sit down because they think they are home on their couch would not sit outside and watch a game. I like the Dome just needs some updating.

  5. Aaron

    Personally, I think the Dome is great. A couple more million in renovations could really enhance the place… Improve the restrooms, renovate the concession areas, walkways, stadium seating, outdoor digital video signage to hide the dull grey walls… etc.

    Now if it was at all possible to add a retractable roof to the existing facility the place would be unbelievable!

  6. retractable roofs are an outrageous amount of money so that’s out of the question, IMO

  7. OrangeCrush27

    You know this is a very interesting story (which is also being discussed on, which i hope grabs the attention of alumni, local businesses, ‘Cuse fan base and the university. Even though the discussion of other facilities is great, the important question is how do we fill seats? Basketball is a no brainer, but building a new footall stadium that hold more then 50,000+?? We dont even sell out the dome as it is for football, which could change being in the ACC and winning records.

    I agree with previous posts that a retractable dome makes the most sense. I would love to see ‘Cuse with a 75,000 seat stadium for football, but i doubt it will ever happen due to the fan base not filling it.

    As for hoops the dome is unique and a great venue, i couldnt imagine seeing hoops in a new arena that seats less then 30,000!

    Not to mention Lacrosse. Now with the move to the “SEC of lax” more fans will be coming to watch those ACC battles.

    I feel ‘Cuse is in a great place right meow and i am excited to see what the future holds for ‘Cuse athletics wiht possible updated facilities/arenas/stadiums.

  8. Terry

    Wow alot here!! Russ a retractable roof is rather unique in the NE and it might change the worn out old time tradition of SU football. Modern it up a bit!!

    Open-air complex in the upper NE is a not an option. If you ever sat at Archbold during a snow/rain storm you know what I mean. Right now here its solid heavy rain. The local CC has streams of water running over its fairways. You want to sit in that with family and kids-NO WAY. Also, the stupid idea of scheduling early home at the Dome games is NUTS. Maybe a late season home game for a league championship just might happen and the Dome would help in November to. don’t forget that!!!

    As for the SUBB program its the Dome that made that program lets face that. All this new changes will bring in the $$$$$ for SUFB program which this subject is all about. If anything the SUFB comes 1st in a new stadium or not. 30,000 fannies at the DOME for SUBB is impressive, but alot of seats line of view truly suck. But not at football games. Ain’t a bad seat in the loud house!! For once let’s back off SUBB(that program is solid) and turn the major effort towards SUFB and get it in the reins of the SUBB program.

    Also maybe the thought of either baseball or hockey coming to SU. Hopefully title 9 won’t kill that too. Oh that’s right there are more womens sports now at SU than mens!!

  9. chris

    A new facility to replace the Dome must be coupled with access and parking considerations.Congestion is one of the primary reasons some fans will stay away. Who wants to get in a gridlock,no move situation prior to the gameOne of the prime activities once on campus is strolling M Street and visiting such well established shops like Mannys and dropping some cash on new shirts and accessories that scream Orangemen. Getting to the destination and having to rush to the seats eliminates time for shopping.Egress is just as important if the problem becomes intolerable fans will forgo the desire to see the games in person. Who wants to suffer before and after a game?Architects and city planners should work in conjunction with each other in this endeavor.

  10. Russell MacEachern

    Whats wrong with this picture?…Pitt signs 4*QB…other offers Akron,Samford,(thats right not Stanford)Marshall and S.Fla?

  11. New subject? Not really. There was a lot of chatter years ago when some wanted the Carrier Dome off campus. Some even suggested a partnership of SU with the State of NY with a jointly owned building at the Fair Grounds (Plenty of parking). Others felt attendance would be better served by a retractable roof building on campus. Result is what you see in the on- campus Carrier Dome with poor parking. Back to the future once again looking for the right tradeoffs.

  12. Living in Pittsburgh, we are spoiled with a nice stadium for both college and pro games. One of the main reasons is the proximity of tailgating which is close to the stadium on all sides. That is just as important to the total fan experience as the game itself. The Dome just does not have that. Your always in small lots or walking up huge hills to get to the dome. Traffic is a nightmare too. Again, the dome was great for a while but time for an open air stadium. The weather in November is much milder and has been for years!! As far as hoops, hard to say.

  13. Cuse don't luse

    @Russ he is another st Thomas aquinas kid (the Pitt 4*) meaning he had been sitting behind John o’korn who we flirted with on espn it gives Florida and south Florida offers to his credit while Miami already has the #12 and #9 qbs and fsu has the #8 qb I don’t think he is any better than long but he is certainly no slouch he just didn’t get the exposure fast enough to some of the big local schools

  14. Schools that draw 75,000 fans or more are typically big state schools. These schools have student bodies that can be 4x what SU has, the students typically come from in-state and typically stay in-state, not to mention the folks who grow up in those states and are rabid fans. A mid-sized private school, where the alumni base scatters all over the country does not need a stadium that seats more than our current stadium.

  15. Terry

    Ted hit a real sore spot for a University as long as a tradition SU has had is its lousy tailgating. Hell I caught part of the Miss St/UCLA baseball championship on tv and they mentioned the tailgating there from the Miss St(I think) side. How great it was. That’s MSU not Alabama/Florida!! And baseball not football!! boy they have it right. And the players and their FAMILIES see that too! Its a party atmosphere now more than ever. SU just never had that. Except for small pockets here and there. The administration has to keep that in mind if and when a new stadium comes into effect!! Just once in your life go to a northeastern tailgate at PSU and then pick your poison at any major school in deep south. You tell me then it tailgating isn’t part of the whole NCAA college football experience. Hell a E. T. type being could see that Dr Gross!! LOL!!

  16. Greg Jones

    Many stadiums are older than the dome and it still has to be proven that we need more than the 50K capacity. I would love to see it filled, with people clamoring for tickets. It can happen. For me build an outside stadium and I will give up my 4 season tickets. The dome is a unique on campus facility, update it and it will be fine!!

  17. Jason

    Could this be a solution to the replace the dome issue?

  18. Terry

    Dick and Jean Thompson stepped up and donated 1 Million for SU. This should will help greatly the CUSE programs in place and down the road improve the programs since joining the ACC. Thanks again Jean and Dick!!

  19. Russell MacEachern

    I agree with updating as long as it includes a retractible roof!We could close at our liesure for weather or “locking in” big name teams [email protected],thanks for the info..I get it [email protected] the heck is Ron with his opinion or Malone and Carlton?

  20. Look when we start talking about new stadiums,my thoughts are we don’t need one. For god’s sake people realize it’s only 30 years old. The reason for that statement,how many of you have been in the “SWAMP” located on campus at Florida?

    That’s a hell of lot older and is a beautiful place to watch a fooball game. The fans will not tolerate an open stadium because of the wheather. I’ve gone to ND to watch a game and had to set in the snow,getting cold and having snowballs thrown at us all during the game. An open stadium is out of the question.

    Russell as far as the QB situation goes here,people seem to forget that we already have 2(4*) duel threat QB’s on campus in John Kinder and Terrell Hunt and we have another 4* QB on his way in AJ Long. The only questions to be resolved is the abilitites of the “Oklahoma Gun Slinger” riding into Syracuse on his white stallion and who is going to be our starter in August. But please remember Kinder and Hunt are dual threat 4* QB’s, Let’s see what they can do.

    I made a request a couple of years ago concerning tailgating at the games. Give us one consolidated area,instead of having the band playing for the people on the stairs of Hendicks Chapel on the Quad,have the fans get behind the band and have the band lead us into the dome or at least to the doors of the dome before the game. My sons and I have been tailgating for the last 10-15 years. We’ve made new friends ,but the very best tailgaing that we ever did was when we traveled to Akron a couple of years ago and the Syracuse fans filled a parking lot a blocjk away from the stadium. Lots of fun.

  21. The question to build or not to build is interesting. The two pictures at the head of this article is one of the Dome and one of the Onondaga County War Memorial,which indicates to me that people want to see a joint venture between the city,county and the university. That just isn’t going to happen.

    Back in the early days of the dome,a huge argument broke out between the city and university. In the end the university agreed to pay for the help of city police after each game with traffic control and the city started taxing the university for all non educational functions held inside the dome. That in my opinion is why different functions more concerts,the WWF,or other events are not held there today. I was really surprised when they allowed the Monster Trucks to put a show on there recently. The place was a sell out,everyone including the city,vendors and the university all made money.

    The university,by putting up new buildings,is taking all of the parking spaces away from the dome. If a new football complex is to be built,it needs to go over on South Campus where the dome and parking can be built to accommodate all future events.

    Onondaga War Memorial is aging and has become an historical landmark within the city. That’s where the Syracuse Crunch play their hockey games. People are asking if Syracuse joing the ACC will include hockey and baseball. I would love to see the university start these two sports,but please remember the university already has a hockey rink for the women and have a baseball stadium owned by the county for the team to play at if needed. The baseball stadium could be the joint adventure everyone is asking for,but if that where to happen what about Le Moyne College Baseball? Where would they play?

    Why is it that NYS for the last 20 years let the Oneida Indians and Turning Stone Casino go tax free,but have the City of Syracuse collect taxes on the University? Makes you wonder just how frigging crooked our politicians are,don’t it?

  22. Russell MacEachern

    Very enlightening history Ron!Very few understand SU’s working’s like you!!Malone is also knowledgeable on SU too as an alum from NJ!! I usually learn something when I listen to the native CNYers post!(Terry,Ron,Dip,Carlton) “I always forget someone?”

  23. Russell MacEachern

    @Jason,interesting link…I like it!! I have loads of cousins and family in BC originally from PEI and N.S. Canada 3 of whom I’ve just had a reunion with in NJ!!Weatern Canada is cutting edge!!

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