The memories Syracuse fans made in the Carrier Dome over the past 43 years are unforgettable. Big East championships, big-time touchdowns, and the thrill of sweating bullets on those metal benches with 30,000 other people in an indoor space with no air conditioning. Regardless of how hot you were in the Dome, there’s at least one memory from the unique venue’s history which sticks with you. But as rumored stadium changes fly around the SU sports space, today, the name of the building changed for the first time ever.
JMA Wireless, a self-proclaimed “disruptive force in the wireless industry” which makes “world‚Äôs most advanced software-based 5G platform,” has shelled out an unknown amount of money to be the Dome’s new naming rights partner. One could figure the initial contract would at least cover at least half of the cost of the building’s renovations (new seats, downsizing, etc) and JMA has been very forthcoming about their plans to make the Dome a massive “5G hotspot.” Now, I stand by the belief that when 30,000 people gather in a space, it doesn’t matter how well the phone service works. If JMA does actually pull successful cell phone service off, it would absolutely be a welcome change.
Carrier first paid $2.75 million in 1979 to get its name on the building, the first deal of such kind. There was no contract. The name just stuck. It was ironic that a building named after an air conditioning company had no air conditioning! While Carrier’s name was on national television as free advertising while ‘Cuse squads played big game after big game, the University reaped nothing from the deal. After repetitive asks from SU to Carrier to give more cash to the cause or help renovate the stadium, all of which were denied because of the contract, John Wildhack and company got frustrated. Syracuse began nixing the Carrier name from all communications, calling the building the Dome, Ernie Davis Legends Field and the Stadium. Heck, it might’ve even been calling “that big COVID testing building on Irving Street” for all I know. Carrier didn’t want or need to fulfill Wildhack’s demands.
As we fast forward to current times, naming a new stadium costs companies millions of dollars. For example, NC State makes 4 million a year to call its basketball venue PNC Arena. What Wildhack is pretty much saying here is that JMA Wireless agreed to foot the bill that Carrier would not. So Dome renovations? Here we come. Extra cash for the athletic department? You got it. Does it mean Wildhack and his athletic programs will ever sort out a successful NIL program or win a championship? Eh, doubt it.
For most fans, the name change won’t mean anything. It’s still the Dome, and the memories from 1979 are still alive as soon as you enter the doors.