Orange Watch: Syracuse’s Carrier Dome is not a dump, it is a building that’s simply outdated

About to begin its 36th season of operation, the Carrier Dome era has produced so many games that revive memories throughout Orange Nation
The venerable Carrier Dome just completed hosting its 36th season of basketball with the NCAA East Regional

Item: Much was publicized this past weekend during the NCAA East Regional about some of the visiting fans’ negative reactions to the condition of the host Carrier Dome, some going as far to call the venue “a dump.” It’s been 36 years in which the building has served as a basketball facility, and while some of the recent criticism is warranted, for the most part the Dome has aged pretty well within the tight confines of its original architectural footprint. Soon it will be time for the big decisions to be made on the structure’s roof and overall future, or seeking another path of funding for an entirely new facility, but for now, all’s fine and functional with the Dome.

In the social media age of instant reaction, was it any surprise that some fans, including those following North Carolina State and Louisville attending their team’s games in the Sweet 16 and for the Cardinals, the Elite Eight, made complaints about various elements of a domed football stadium that’s cut in half for its basketball configuration, in which they sat for the very first time?

From the crowded concourses and uncomfortable aluminum bench seating, to the swoosh sound made by the doors upon entering or exiting the air-supported structure, to the lack of amenities in the restrooms, all was laid out on Twitter for the back and forth exchanges and piling on of derogatory tweets.

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But Wolfpack and Cards fans follow the two ACC teams that happen to play in off-campus, professional sports-style arenas. N.C. State shares 19,772 seat PNC Arena with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, part of the state fairgrounds and sports complex area of outer Raleigh detached from campus, while U of L serves as the main tenant of the sparkling 22,090 seat KFC Yum Center situated downtown near the banks of the Ohio River.

Both of those buildings, especially the newer, four year old plus home of Louisville, have the requisite levels of luxury boxes and other premium seating, but more importantly they contain the one main element the Dome is lacking – space, as in wide concourses, modern and bigger restrooms, the ability to watch the action on the court while eating and drinking away from one’s seat, plenty of room for auxiliary services, support staff, the media, and the teams themselves, with multiple spacious locker rooms and practice courts tucked away in case the arena floor is tied up.

With the Carrier Dome there is simply no room to expand, except perhaps the west end which contains the locker rooms on the lowest level, but even at that point of the building there isn’t a lot of room before hitting Irving Avenue. In addition, the much discussed status of the Dome’s air-supported Teflon roof has to be made over the next two years with a finite date of its longevity coming into view. Does it get replaced by another air-supported model or a completely different roof component?

Or, will the next athletic director go in a different direction in seeking support from the chancellor and board of trustees to explore funding of a brand new facility, and where would that be built and who would operate it?

Last summer, we wrote about the perfect location for the future home jewel of Orange athletics, but until those current and future facility questions are answered, we’ll get along just fine with the good old Dome, cramped/outdated conditions and all.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.