With reports out this week that Syracuse had considered a new multi-sport facility to house the football, basketball and lacrosse teams, the Fizz takes a look at a few pros and cons of a new stadium being built for the Orange.
More enjoyable for fans: Not to say the Carrier Dome isn’t a great place to watch a game, but a new building would be much much better. Between metal bleachers, some without seat backs, and steep stairs in the upper deck, the Carrier Dome could use some upgrades. With a new building, fans would get the new amenities that come in almost all stadiums now.
Outdoor Games? To really go all out, SU could put a retractable roof on a potential new building. That would open the DOOR for outdoor football and lacrosse games, and maybe even a basketball games. Yes, basketball in an open-air stadium sounds crazy, but the Orange have played on a boat before, so maybe it happens if they play in a retractable roof stadium.
Another new source of revenue. News flash: Syracuse does not get naming rights money from Carrier. The University received a one-time fee from Carrier as part of the original fundraising for construction. Yet, it is still the Carrier Dome, named after the air conditioning company. If a new building is built, that would end the agreement SU made with Carrier at the time, opening the door to a large naming rights contract. Just look at some of the others around the country. While the name “Carrier Dome” has become synonymous with SU, a large influx of cash could help the university in other ways.
Recruiting. Showing kids a brand new state-of-the-art building is a lot better than showing them the 35-year-old Carrier Dome, even if the Dome is rich in history. A new facility would likely be similar to the Dome in that it is a one-of-a-kind football/basketball/lax venue. For basketball, this could also be a way to position the court in the center and telling kids they could play in front of 40,000 to 50,000 people.
Cost. Where will the money come from? Reports surfaced this week because Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner said she did not support the project. However, in other reports, the county legislature was already ready to fight for some state money for the stadium. Syracuse will need county money because SU may not have the money right now to start building a new stadium after ground breaking for the new football facilities.
Location. One of the best parts about the Dome is that it sits right on campus. Students can take a short walk over to the games, alumni have reason to wander around their old campus, and it makes it feel more like a college game. In order to be in the same spot, the Orange would need to find a new place to play for a few years or construction would be very fast. With the first part, maybe basketball plays at the War Memorial downtown, and football and lax play near the soccer stadium on South Campus. The second part, maybe the construction can begin as soon as the lax season (or basketball if lax plays a year somewhere else) and can be done completely over the summer. But if they move, maybe the Dome moves to South Campus. That would take away from the overall campus atmosphere, students would no longer be able to take a quick walk to the game after a late class. Tailgates on campus or Marshall Street would become more of a logistical challenge. The Dome is perfect where it is on campus, and moving it could create problems and backlash.
The city isn’t behind it. If the city isn’t behind the project, it becomes much harder for SU to get the stadium built. Doctor Gross may not be able to raise all the money needed to cover the extraordinary costs involved with building a new stadium without the help of the city, county and maybe state, even with the help of new ACC money.
A new stadium would be great for SU. It could attract more recruits and might be able to bring in some more money through a naming rights deal. But it just isn’t the right time to talk about building a new stadium. According to SU sport management professor Micheal Veley, the Dome roof’s lifespan lasts about 10-15 more years and the cost of a new roof could be similar to starting over. It is possible that Syracuse has just been planning for the future, but this conversation will become even more pressing when the Dome roof is really on its last legs and needs to be replaced.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg