Dome Sweet Dome: But For How Long?

By Jackson Ajello, John Dowling, Adam Friedman SYRACUSE, NY (NCC News) – Only eight years remain until the roof of the Carrier Dome has to be replaced. As the deadline approaches, three options are on the table for Chancellor Kent Syverud and the Board of Trustees at Syracuse University to consider.

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The Carrier Dome with Syracuse Quad in the distance as seen from the top of Lawrinson Hall, Copyright John Dowling 2015.

The Carrier Dome first opened its doors on September 20, 1980. The 30-year-old facility hosts the Syracuse University football, basketball and lacrosse teams. The Carrier Dome is the only domed stadium in the Northeast and the largest on-campus basketball arena in the country.

But the 49,000 seat facility is not just home to SU sporting events. It has also hosted NCAA tournament rounds for basketball, lacrosse, and track and field, NBA preseason games and regional and state finals in high school football. Artists such as Billy Joel, U2 and the Rolling Stones have all performed at the Carrier Dome over the years.

The air-supported roof of the Dome has now become outdated among stadiums across the country, according to Syracuse University Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Kevin Quinn.

The roof of the Dome must be replaced within the next three to five years,. The looming replacement has brought three proposals to the table for Chancellor Kent Syverud and the Board of Trustees, according to Quinn.

One option is to simply replace the existing air supported roof structure with another air supported roof.

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The Physics Building on the Syracuse Quad with the Carrier Dome in the background, Copyright Jackson Ajello 2016.

Another option is to replace the existing air supported roof with a permanent structure.  Part of that option also includes three promenades connected on Waverly Avenue, University Avenue and on the Quad in place of the Physics Building.

The last option is an offsite standalone stadium supported by external funding.

As the process moves forward, the Chancellor has his priorities set.

“The Chancellor wants to make the decision that is right by the students and the greater Syracuse community,” said Quinn.

For students, a significant advantage to the Dome is its location in the heart of campus. Some fear that the possibility of moving the Dome would erase a significant part of student life at SU.

“I think having the Dome be on campus just makes it really special… I think it’s a huge part of student life, and for the community and for alumni who come back and want to see their alma mater and go to a game.” -Nicole Howell

“I think Syracuse students are really lucky to have the Dome right on campus … I don’t think it would be nearly as fun if we didn’t get to walk through the Quad and see this big tailgate on our way to a football game,” she said.

Howell is also the President of “Otto’s Army,” a Syracuse University student organization that controls the student section for SU athletics. Throughout her time in the stands, she has been in many visiting student sections on road trips. Most recently, she attended a basketball game in the Verizon Center, home to Syracuse’s hated rival Georgetown. She noted how they share the arena with other professional sports teams, something that makes them and other venues different from the Carrier Dome.

“It’s ours… I think the cool thing about the Carrier Dome is that it’s Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome,” she said.

Despite their love for the Dome, students still acknowledge the need for renovations. Even though she loves the Carrier Dome as it is, Howell mentioned that a JumboTron would be a welcome addition.

“They [other arenas] obviously have a huge JumboTron that dangles from the ceiling, which we can’t do because our ceiling is essentially a balloon,” Howell said.

Tom Langan, a freshman at Syracuse University, touched on the irony of the building’s namesake when discussing his desired renovations.

“It gets way too hot in there, I would like there to be A/C. It is called the Carrier Dome for some reason.” -Tom Langan

When it comes to local business, the Carrier Dome is integral to the economics of Syracuse’s Marshall Street.

“If the Carrier Dome moved I would lose business,” said Dave Jacobs, owner of M-Street Pizza and Shirt World, which are both located in the center of Marshall Street, “If the stadium moved our business would definitely be hurt.”

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A view looking down the shops on Marshall Street with the Varsity in the distance and ShirtWorld to the right, Copyright Jackson Ajello 2016.

Marshall Street is home to over 40 restaurants, bars and other privately owned businesses, including long-time Syracuse establishments like Faegan’s Cafe & Pub, Manny’s Tee’s and Varsity Pizza.

“The way parking is set up and where Marshall Street is, it’s good for business,” Jacobs said.

Marshall Street is pinned between two parking garages. The garages are then filled during games, which subsequently leads to business before and after games for the restaurant.

“If the Dome moved you’d be hurting businesses here a lot,” Jacobs said.

When asked about improvements he would like to see to the Dome, Jacobs said he has never actually attended a game. Jacobs, a former kicker for the SU football team from 1975-1978, played in Archbold Stadium but graduated before the Carrier Dome was built. Today, he manages his businesses during the games.

The Syracuse Board of Trustees will make the final decisions on the future of the Dome. Their last meeting to discuss the Dome took place last November. The decision on the future of the Carrier Dome is likely to be announced sometime after the commencement ceremonies of the Class of 2016, when Campus Framework renovations are set to begin.

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