Dome Decision: SU must decide fate of Carrier Dome

The Carrier Dome in Syracuse has become a staple in the Syracuse skyline, as much as it has in life around the city. The dome is a 49,262-seat venue that has attracted students, athletes, and musicians since it was opened in 1980. The venue has seen the likes of Billy Joel, U2, The Who, Garth Brooks, Neil Diamond, Pink Floyd, and the Zak Brown Band perform — giving it credibility well-beyond the field or court. For Syracuse athletics, the programs that call the Carrier Dome home have made leaps and bounds since the Dome first opened the turnstiles to the public on September 20, 1980. The football program, while not enjoying a great deal of success in recent years, had a great run in the Dome’s early days. In recent years, it has been the men’s basketball program making national news under head coach Jim Boeheim, who brought a title home to the Dome in 2003.The significance of the Carrier Dome goes well-beyond wins and losses, though.The Carrier Dome has become a fixture of the Syracuse skyline and is the city’s mot nationally identifiable landmark. Also, being one of the most-unique venues in college sports, the Dome has hosted as many memorable games as Madison Square Garden claimed during the glory days of the Big East tournament.It’s these memories that make the next step so difficult. The existing roof of the Carrier Dome must be replaced by 2024 which has forced the University’s hand to make a decision on the future of the entire facility.Simply put, there are three options that have been discussed:1. Replace the current roof, which would appear to be the least-expensive option.2. Replace the entire roof structure with something along the lines of a retractable roof, or new permanent roof, which would likely require demolition, renovation, or expansion of adjacent buildings. This would add to the expense but opens up a world of possibilities. Some of these possibilities that have been tossed around online have been a connecting hotel, a welcome center, and an improvement to traffic flow and parking.3. Replace the whole stadium, building an off-site stadium — with costs nearing $1 billion when all is said and done.While the third option might seem like the most-exciting — it’s also probably the most- unrealistic of any plan. The major problem being that the Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner would have to invest some political capital, which could turn voters off, since the city and New York State will have to front some of the money for an undertaking of this size. From the Syracuse University’s perspective this isn’t the greatest situation either because they would lose a great deal of control, which they have grown fond of with a stadium directly on their property.The first option is definitely cost-effective but comes with the guarantee of having to do more work down the road — sooner-than-later. If the dome roof is replaced, then it will have to be replaced again and most experts agree that it would limit the types of renovations that could be done to the Carrier Dome more largely beyond changing what is above players and spectators when they walk in. That brings us to the second option, which many believe is the most-sensible of the three options on the table. The speculation around this plan has mainly included some sort of major overhaul to the current roofing structure . It would give Syracuse University something permanent, while also giving the university the ability to deal with some other important renovation along the way.The problem with dome roofs is that they are largely seen as outdated and difficult to maintain in the long-term. This is why a permanent fixture, like a retractable or even solid roof option, would give the Carrier Dome a lifespan beyond decades. Chancellor Kent Syverud pointed out that his hope was that Syracuse University would begin ironing out details of a future plan during this semester. He said in part, “I do expect, that with Board approval, we’ll start rolling out much more detailed communication about the Campus Framework this semester and hopefully that happens sooner rather than later in the semester.”The Senior VP for Public Affairs at the Syracuse, Kevin Quinn, described the speed at which the university was taking on this matter as nothing more than the process of “due diligence.” Some of the other considerations for renovations have included the hope that the Carrier Dome would have the ability to reach a capacity at, or slightly above 40,000 for basketball games. This would be an ideal situation for a school that annually contends for the lead the entire country in average college basketball attendance. Syracuse edged out Kentucky for that honor in 2014.The exact future of the facility remains a major question mark in Syracuse, as school and city officials work to determine what is most-feasible. While a new facility at a new site, perhaps near the Destiny USA complex might seem like the most-attractive idea on paper — it would likely require more than the city could offer, to make a reality.Thus, the future of the Carrier Dome seems to be in-tact with a new roofing structure, and improved amenities, on the way, eventually.

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