Orange Watch: The last sports year for Syracuse’s Carrier Dome as we know it

Carrier Dome Crane
The Carrier Dome is currently under construction. Mandatory Photo Credit: The Juice Online/Sean Murphy

Item: There’s been a lot of activity around the Dome this summer, and it has nothing to do with the outcome of the games that are contested on the building’s playing surfaces. Cranes, big and small, have been appearing the last couple of weeks, the beginning of the preparation work for when the Dome’s doors close March 1, 2020 for six months of work to construct a new, non-air supported roof that will forever change the look of the Syracuse skyline.

It will be quite an interesting scene on campus just over five weeks from now. Some 50,000 people will make their way to the southwest corner of the university quad or along a crowded Irving Avenue to attend the first home football game (7:30 p.m. ET) of the 2019 season between Syracuse and defending national champion Clemson, also to be televised nationally on ABC.

Most attending the biggest home game in the four year Dino Babers era will traverse around orange construction safety signage and the like, and in the case of the Dome’s west end a huge crane, with smaller construction equipment also scattered about.

It’s all about maximizing time to get a new permanent roof in place to replace the pillow-like, air supported Teflon pieces that have helped form one of the city’s signature looks for nearly 40 years, and an additional end to the accompanying air pressure (and often times adventurous) entering and exiting the building.

» Related: Previewing Syracuse’s 2019 Special Teams

Here’s a capsule look at how the mandatory Dome closing date of next March 1 will affect the three primary sports:

Football – The 2019 season will not see any games impacted by the impending spring closure, other than the tell-tale signs of the forthcoming work, but it’s the September 19, 2020 home opener against old rival Colgate (SU begins the season a week earlier at Rutgers) that will bear watching. That is 203 days from the closing to the scheduled game to do the heavy lifting necessary to get the new roof in place and the site ready for a football game to be contested.

Basketball – We’re predicting that the ACC gives Syracuse basketball a home game on the extra day in February 2020 for leap year, or Saturday, February 29, to be specific, when the schedule is released in a couple of weeks (Duke perhaps?). That would only mean the first seven days of March the Orange would have to play a conference road game, or two, before the ACC Tournament gets underway March 10 in Greensboro. Ending the regular season with two ACC road games is not ideal, but not unbalanced. And, no jokes, please, about losing the hosting option for the NIT. The Orange is headed to the NCAA Tournament in 2020, Jim Boeheim’s sixth decade as head coach.

Lacrosse – Like last season, when the ‘Cuse played its first seven games at home, look for SU to likely take advantage of the four weeks available in February to schedule the same number of home games before the forced exit. That would leave at least four, if not five other home games that would have to be scheduled, with all, or at least the ACC games against North Carolina and Notre Dame, to be contested at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 596 Articles
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.