Orange Watch: The biggest name who’s performed inside Syracuse’s Carrier Dome

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Pete Souza, Official White House photographer.

Item: The recently concluded ESPN documentary series on Michael Jordan and the great Chicago Bulls teams that won six NBA championships, got us thinking about Jordan’s four performances inside the Dome, and who’s the biggest name of all that’s entertained inside the most well-known building on the Syracuse campus.

The Dome has showcased athletics, artistry, and just about everything else that has made sense to take advantage of with its size and roof in central New York. From Syracuse football, basketball, and lacrosse and NCAA Tournament play, to major A-List performing artists, an NFL preseason game, AHL hockey, and numerous other non-athletic events, it’s an impressive and diverse list.

Here’s our Mount Rushmore of the top four performers in the building’s 40year history (start the arguments):

4. Mick Jagger Look who’s among the artists not on the list; Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Prince, David Bowie, Taylor Swift, and Neil Diamond. The Rolling Stones and Jagger, dressed in a pink leotard the first time around, delighted the Dome in November 1981 and December 1994. In ’81, it was the band’s first trip to town in 16 years. and a far different atmosphere than their first two Syracuse appearances at the downtown War Memorial in the turbulent 1960s.

» Related: Counting down the very best Syracuse seasons in school history

3. Michael Jordan  After helping North Carolina to the NCAA title in 1982, the all-time great Jordan’s second of his two NCAA Tournament games played in the Dome the following spring ended with a disappointing dud. Favored North Carolina was upset by Georgia 82-77 in the 1983 East Regional Final. The following December, Jordan and the Tar Heels easily beat frosh Pearl Washington and SU 87-64. Jordan was the game’s high scorer with 19-points. Jordan drew an NBA preseason record crowd of 28,602 to the Dome in Oct. 1992 as the Bulls beat N.J. 99-94.

2. Paul McCartney – One of the four members of The Beatles, plus Knighthood, says it all. McCartney, at age 75, was fire-hot on stage literally and figuratively leading his band through a three-hour set in September 2017. It included McCartney setting small flames ablaze as part of the performance, as he dazzled the packed building with 60 years’ worth of stories, memories and emotion.

1. Frank SinatraHe embraced the nickname given to him in the 1950s when he founded and ran Reprise Records, and indeed, Sinatra was “Chairman of The Board.” By the time Sinatra played the Dome, along with legendary Las Vegas impresario Wayne Newton in Oct. 1980, he had been out of his first retirement for seven years and had just released his famous homage to the Big Apple “New York, New York.” Sinatra and Newton appeared as a favor to Nancy Reagan in support of her husband Ronald Reagan’s presidential election which occurred less than two weeks later.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 666 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.