The Carrier Dome is approaching its 33rd birthday as the home venue for Syracuse football, basketball and lacrosse games, and for the same reasons that folks around town have been speculating about how much longer Jim Boeheim will remain with the program, questions seem to be percolating about how much longer the Dome will remain.
The Orange are headed to the ACC next season, bringing on a brand new era in Cuse athletics. For the first time since Jimmy Carter was president, Syracuse will be a part of a league other than the Big East.
Is it time that the University upgrades to a newer, more up-to-date facility?
Arenas and practice gyms have become the arms race in college athletics. Is the marriage with the Carrier Dome pulling Syracuse down?
Daryl Gross is busily hatching potential arena alternatives.
“I think Central New York deserves an unbelievable place,” said Gross, SU’s athletic director. “You’ve got all these great new stadiums in New York City and then you start coming upstate and the next biggest thing you run into is the Dome. And so there will be a day one day for folks up here to be able to enjoy and take advantage of those kinds of amenities. That’s part of our thinking. We always think that way. And I’m a big dreamer, anyway.”
That’s all well and good, but how much does the opinion of the most popular man in Upstate New York matter? Boeheim doesn’t want to see the Dome go:
Boeheim prefers to extend the shelf life of a stadium that has helped facilitate unprecedented growth for his program. He believes the Dome, with its quirky visuals, its capacity to accommodate vast basketball crowds and its strong Syracuse association, still serves the university’s athletic interests.
The Dome, Boeheim said, is one of a kind. And he said that distinction holds valuable appeal.
“You build a new basketball arena, then you’ve got a basketball arena, just like everybody else has,” Boeheim said. “We have a unique building. And it’s in good shape. I’m not sure there’s a reason. And if you build a place, where will it be?”
I actually agree with Boeheim here.
Syracuse is a weird fit in the ACC, as it’s usually blanketed by snow throughout the hoops season. Instead of pitching the opportunity to play for one of the Big East’s marquee programs and a chance to make a run at a Big East tournament title in Madison Square Garden, the Orange will be selling the chance to play in a conference with Duke, North Carolina and Louisville.
I’m not saying they won’t be successful. I’m saying it will be different, and there’s no guarantees that they are going to be able to consistently bring in the same kind of talent they currently land when Boeheim is gone.
But the one thing that the Orange will always be able to pitch, at least from a hoops perspective, is the chance to play in a building that routinely packs in 30,000 fans for home games.
There is no where else in the country that happens.
I understand the desire to have a shiny new facility to show off, but I think renovating the Dome would be a much, much better option than building a new facility.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.