Orange Watch: Carrier Dome renovation plans add state-of-the-art amenities

Syracuse football Carrier Dome
Syracuse football from the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: Last week’s news that Syracuse University has secured state funding (some $20M of a nearly $45M project) to help pay for another round of Dome renovations centered around replacing the over 40-year-old aluminum bench seating with individual chairs, is another step to bringing the building up to contemporary venue standards.

You know the feeling in your rear end after attending a game in the Dome over the past four decades. There’s a temporary reminder where you just spent the last couple of hours rooting on the Orange, being entertained by a concert, or other event.

Fortunately, those days should be in the past come next season for most fans, with the plans to replace the aluminum with individual plastic seating, likely dropping the capacity by around 5,000 seats.

At the current listed capacity of 49,057 for football, that would put the total right around the magical number of 44,444 which should be the new listed capacity for obvious reasons.

In addition to the new seating, there will be alterations to the concourses and ramps easing access to the seating bowl for all fans, and a much-needed upgrade to 5G digital technology to enhance what’s been at times a painfully slow wi-fi experience inside the building.

Over the past decade there’s been a national trend of sports venues offering the choice of congregation areas for spectators to watch the events unfolding, as many fans simply don’t want to be tethered to their individual seat.

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The second phase of this project calls for the construction of an event facility on the third level east end that will connect to the Barnes Center at the Arch, giving those who want to wander a place to socialize in an alternate in-person option.

Although not publicly announced, we’ve been hearing for the last year or so that there are future plans in place to remove the seating in the second level west end, side court for the basketball configuration, and replace those seats with more private suites which currently occupy the entire second level except for the football end zones.

That would certainly be a boon for the athletic department’s coffers and provide an upgraded experience, not to mention pretty good site lines for those occupants.

After falling behind the amenities race into the 2020’s, credit should go to the university for continuing the recent upward protectory of making central New York’s most famous venue a much more desirable place to attend events.

The permanent roof has ended the swoosh of air pressure upon entering and exiting and increased the noise level advantage, air conditioning has made hot days outside much more tolerable inside, the massive video board enhances the experience for all to see, there’s been improvement made to concessions/payment and rest rooms, and now the upgraded seating is on its way.

Win or lose, it’s going to take a lot of the sting away, at least from one’s backside.

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About Brad Bierman 843 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.