Orange Watch: Syracuse fans, welcome to the brand new Carrier Dome!

About to embark on its 33rd year of operation, the Carrier Dome is undoubtedly the signature structure on the Syracuse skyline when the city is seen from afar. The building is known nationally among sports fans as the symbol of Orange athletics.

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Inside the renovated Carrier Dome (click to enlarge)

But even the most loyal SU employee would have told you in recent years that the facility had fallen behind in its entertainment and fan convenience offerings. It’s vital in a competitive landscape where economic realities can greatly affect ticket sales.

You know, those offerings like huge ribbon boards that engulf stadiums and arenas from end-to-end flashing everything from ads and crowd encouragement, to LED video boards so digitally clear that it can make a spectator swear that the picture is better than one’s own eyeballs, to the simple ability of using a debit or credit card to make a concession purchase.

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Welcome to the Dome circa 2012-13. With those aforementioned enhancements among the many just about in place, SU Senior Associate Athletics Director for Facility Operations/Carrier Dome Managing Director (wow, what a title!) Pete Sala, now in his 31st year working inside the building, couldn’t be happier.

“It’s exciting, no doubt, the fans are going to be amazed,” a still slightly weary sounding Sala said by phone this week as he was cruising through yet another double-digit hour work day. “We’ll have these huge (LED) video boards (21-feet high by 40-feet wide) in the east and west ends and they’re just about finished, and they look great. We’ll have smaller (ad) boards all over, the (player) tunnels, in the corners, and new play clocks and time and temperature boards.”

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The new video board

And, as for the much ballyhooed 360 ribbon board display circling around the building’s façade between the second and third levels, Sala sounds like a proud papa.

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“It will instantly change a fan’s perspective of the entire look and feel (of the building) during an event. It’s the latest technology, and it simply looks fantastic.”

Perhaps the most significant convenience will be the ability to pay for anything under the Teflon top with a debit or credit card now that the new POS (Point of Sale) system linking concessions and apparel purchases is finished. Cash only all these years not only slowed sales, but likely left money on the table.

So when you head inside the Dome on Sept. 1 to watch the season opener against Northwestern, not only will the entertainment value away from the field will be a huge upgrade, but Doug Marrone is busy making sure the on field product will be in step as well.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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