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Here’s How To Make the Center Court Plan Work for Syracuse-Duke Hoops

After the Carrier Dome pulls off this center court situation, the attendance record might have to be retired. After Daryl Gross and SU Athletics determines the correct viewing configuration for Syracuse’s super matchup against Duke during Super Bowl weekend, no other school will be able to equal the unique excitement on campus. Gross says the plans are in motion. 

“When Duke comes to town, one way or the other, we are going to break the record. The record of [35,012] we did with Georgetown last year and when Duke comes in, I know we’ll beat it even if the court stays where it is. But we are studying if we can move it to the center in order to see if we can maintain sight lines and all those types of things.”

Gross joined the David Glenn Radio show this week to discuss how Syracuse can create the best on-campus crowd environment ever in the college game on February 1st. How do you do it the right way? That’s where The Fizz comes in.

The question about moving the court to midfield is the biggest one. And it can be done. The one change that has to be made for Duke is quite simple: add more staff. When Syracuse hosted Georgetown in February, it broke the on-campus attendance record, but could have filled the joint even more like Gross alluded. From where the court is normally positioned, more fans could have purchased tickets in the upper decks further away from Jim Boeheim’s christened wood floor, but there were not enough ushers available.

If the court is going to be moved further away from its usual position, do it right and swing it 90 degrees to place it at midfield. Since 1983, there’s only been three times Syracuse and Kentucky have not finished #1 and #2 in attendance. Every one of those 30 years the Orange has been in the top 5. Not every big game should have the court situated with the court in the center of the Dome. It takes man power to construct the layout for the NCAA Final Fours played in football buildings. It also would ring hollow if SU tried this setup for every game. There’s no need to alter the court for every game. 

Multiple extra “movable” seating platforms will be necessary. The student section should remain behind one basket, but like last year’s Final Four, should extend all the way from the 40 yard line roughly to the endzone seats. Same on the other side, and courtside and media seating remains the same around the court because seats are not fixed.

How do the season-ticket holders usual seats – like seat 4, row 12, section 103 for example – transfer over to the SU-Duke layout? Look at the New York Giants and Metlife Stadium. After Giants Stadium was torn down in 2010, the franchise asked season ticket holders if they would still be interested in claiming the Metlife equivalent of their old seats. If yes, great. If you declined, other season ticket holders were offered those closer seats. The demand was endless – like Syracuse basketball – so no seat was left unfilled. Breakdown the normal seating arrangement into “zones,” and offer fans from one designated section to the other that type of viewing equivalent for the Duke-Syracuse game. The extra 25,000 seats that would be made available can go on sale just like any normal game. These can be special addition tickets, as basketball single game seats don’t go on sale until early October, according to SU Athletics.

If this were to happen, I’m assuming a plan would have to be finalized by October (like dealing with fire codes for new seating arrangements, permits, etc). The plan is going to take some serious manpower, we know that, and that’s why Gross is getting started early.

“We have some momentum to it, but we just want to be really, really smart about it if we are going to do it to make sure it doesn’t turn out . It is an unusual experience. If we can make it good for the fans in a way that everyone can benefit from it, then we may try to do something real special like that. It would be fun to do. It really would be.”

It could be the greatest episode of College Gameday yet. ESPN visiting the Carrier Dome for college basketball’s largest on-campus crowd. A familiar script for the Dome, but this grand finale would top it all. 

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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