LOUISVILLE, Ky. — I’ve seen the (wishful) crystal ball of SU’s home basketball facility one day down the road when the 32-year-old Carrier Dome becomes obsolete and outdated.
When the land on which it sits becomes too valuable not to deed over to academic or residential structures of the university, Syracuse’s new home will need a model. That model of a future Orange tinted home is located on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Derby Town.
The Cardinals’ barely four-month-old KFC Yum! Center is resplendent with 22,000 seats of black and red. There are two tiers of luxury boxes on both sides of the building and private clubs and club seating at one end.
The team’s practice court is attached within the structure and the high-tech wired infrastructure — with plenty of room to spare for media and other workers — is the fanciest, most modern home court in the Big East.
Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center (12,508 capacity) previously topped the conference list when it opened in 2002. Pitt’s home features the deafening noise of students seated around the court in all directions and unique courtside high-end seats/boxes situated behind the benches.
Likewise, the attached practice court offers the opportunity to never miss a beat in case other events are taking over the arena floor.
However, the ‘Ville has raised the ante.
“Beautiful, just beautiful,” said athletic director Daryl Gross.
Gross said this while walking around the court, his ubiquitous cell phone planted firmly in his right ear. It was about 90 minutes before the start of a game that turned out to be SU’s sixth league loss of the season against the scrappy and hot-shooting (sound familiar?) Cards on Saturday.
When asked if the building was just the kind of structure he would like to see as his program’s home, no words were needed. The smile and body language said this was exactly (maybe with a few thousand more seats – 25,000 to be exact) what the sixth-year boss would dream of in the post-Jim Boeheim era.
Now, we all know the unexpected boon the Dome has turned out to be in SU hoops history.
It has elevated the program from regional to national. It has been the marvel of the 30,000-plus crowds. Put simply, it has always been the envy of even the biggest national college hoop programs, especially Kentucky.
But everyone knows it’s a football facility that converts to basketball, with many of the seats (or actually aluminum bleachers) at bad angles and far from the court. Perhaps the biggest flaw of all is there are simply not enough high-end seating options, the life blood of the major college and professional sports world today.
Imagine one day in the future, a South Campus sports complex taking over one of the Drumlins golf courses. This new complex would be a 60,000-seat (including the luxury seating) outdoor football stadium with a unique roof design to protect most of the seats from the central New York weather elements.
It would also combine with a basketball focused arena (but suitable for concerts and the like), plenty of parking and access roads down to I-481 for an easy in and out to events.
That would be a “Yummy” colored Orange home of the future.
Brad Bierman is a Special Contributor for The Juice Online.