Orange Watch: Thoughts on Syracuse basketball at midfield in the Dome

Item: The long talked about move of the basketball court to the middle of the Dome floor may be now, or never.

Over the last 20 years or so, whenever we’ve heard the topic of moving the basketball court for one big ‘Cuse game into the middle of the Dome (usually discussed for a Georgetown game in the “old” Big East days), we’ve always thought of the landmark 1968 UCLA-Houston game played at the Astrodome. It was the first time a basketball court was placed in the middle of a domed football stadium with only two rows of seats for media ringing the floor, and those seats were set 18 inches below court level as to not obstruct the closest seats 100 feet away.

Carrier Dome - basketball

Should SU move to the court to the center?

Yes, that game produced a then-U.S. record crowd of 52,693, was the first to be televised live in 49 states producing unheard-of-before viewership, and saw the hometown No. 2 Cougars upset an injured Lew Alcindor and mighty No. 1 UCLA on that historic Saturday night for college basketball. But for most of the paying patrons the game was unwatchable to follow closely without binoculars, with most of the spectators sitting hundreds of feet away in the building’s upper reaches.

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The same will hold true on a slightly smaller scale in the Dome for an Orange game. The tricky part is to decide whether you can place temporary bleachers around the court without blocking too much of the view, or can the university get the “buy in” from season ticket holders who have already paid their 2013-14 season invoices that for this one-time, big event game against (likely) Duke, to accept an inferior vantage point of the play on the court for the sake of the huge overall experience and new record Dome crowd.

That’s the tough sell.

The other important aspect is a dress rehearsal. It’s the reason the NCAA has a game set-up at the Final Four venue during the regular season, and in this case would prove valuable for Dome boss Pete Sala and his crew to get a sense of the lighting, the angles, and other variables of the configuration, including the longer length from the locker rooms.

But is a dress rehearsal even feasible unless a game (or exhibition) is scheduled at midfield a day or two before SU plays its ACC opponent?

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We understand and applaud the athletic department’s thought process to make the first ACC hoops season a memorable one by playing host to a first-of-its kind college basketball event. The old adage “there’s no time like the present” aptly fits this scenario because of the timing of Duke basketball and Mike Krzyzewski making their Dome debut to set-up a rare dual of close coaching friends who happen to be the top two all-time winning Div. 1 college coaches, and because of the extra work that will be required to nail down the logistical (TV) and legal (occupancy) details to actually make it happen.

As long as there will be an ensured all-time record crowd (weather?) of 50,000 plus in a one-time spectacle, and season ticket holders can somehow be mollified, we say why not?

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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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