After getting over the initial shock of some conference realignment moves, many fans began to discuss the new match-ups that would grab their attention on winter nights. One of those games is the matchup between Duke and Syracuse, with the two powerhouse programs scheduled to meet at the Carrier Dome for the first time on February 1.
With that game being billed as a national showcase and one that will ultimately determine who wins the ACC, there were questions as to whether or not Syracuse would reconfigure the Carrier Dome in order to fit some 50,000 fans into the building. While past Big East games against the likes of UConn, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Villanova have established attendance records for the Dome, none have approached the 50,000 mark.
As it turns out neither will the game against the Blue Devils, as it was reported by the Syracuse Post-Standard that Syracuse will not reconfigure the Carrier Dome for the February 1 contest. According to SU executive senior associate athletic director John Giansante, there were multiple factors that led to the school deciding not to make the switch.
“It was considered and studied intensely,” Giansante told Mike Waters of the Post-Standard. “We considered it very seriously. A lot of things pointed us in the direction of being able to do it, but several pointed in the other direction.”
Giansante listed factors such as moving season-ticket holders, sight-lines for temporary seats and the logistics of moving the court for the Saturday game against Duke and then hosting a women’s game at the Dome on Sunday and a men’s game against Notre Dame on Monday.
Also mentioned in the story is the fact that the Carrier Dome wiring is already set up for television crews. Moving the court to the middle of the football field would have required a lot of work in that department as well.
Syracuse’s February 23 game against Georgetown, their final meeting at the Dome as Big East rivals, drew a building-record 35,012 fans. And even with the lack of a rivalry between the Orange and Duke, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the fact that Duke is both a storied and unfamiliar opponent ultimately led to the record being broken.
The two programs have played just four times (two wins apiece), with all four contests (the first being played in 1966) being played on neutral floors. Duke won the most recent meeting, beating the Orange 80-67 in the 1998 NCAA tournament (Sweet 16 game in the South Region).