Orange Watch: What’s in a name? Syracuse’s Dome officially has a new one

JMA Wireless Dome
The JMA Wireless Dome. Courtesy: Syracuse University.

Item: The university and innovative partner and local technology company JMA Wireless made it formal last week. The new name of the primary home of ‘Cuse athletics is the JMA Wireless Dome after 42 seasons of being the Carrier Dome. JMA Wireless will get plenty of valuable brand exposure on site with its new wireless technology, and having its name plastered on and around the playing surfaces and on graphics during game broadcasts. However, to the majority of the fan base and residents of central New York, the on-campus stadium will always be known simply as, “the Dome.”

When the Philadelphia Eagles announced local company Lincoln Financial Group as its new stadium naming rights partner in June 2002, 14 months before Lincoln Financial Field hosted its first event in August 2003, Lincoln’s then Chairman & CEO Jon Boscia implored the media on hand at the press conference not to call the new edifice “the Linc,” as the successor to calling the Eagles previous home Veterans Stadium, “the Vet.”

After all, the company was paying nearly $140M over 21 years (since extended in 2019 for $167M and 14 years through 2036) for the privilege of attaching its name to the location of the market’s most popular sports franchise, and LFG wanted full branding value for the money it was spending. More importantly to Boscia, NOBODY knew the insurance and financial services company that was founded in 1905 as “the Linc.”

Well, in Philly, telling the media (and general public for that matter) NOT to do something is akin to having the exact opposite effect. The stadium instantly became known as “the Linc.”

There were no such instructions from JMA Wireless Founder and CEO John Mezzalingua last week, the introductory press conference held at the building now named after the company he launched in 2000.

Instead, it was a personal coronation for Mezzalingua who in his youth attended SU football games with his family on the site at Archbold Stadium, and as a 13-year-old watched the first football game at the Dome in September 1980.

It’s now officially the JMA Wireless Dome, but CNY native Mezzalingua isn’t going to be insulted by those in the community that will continue calling the stadium, “the Dome.” His focus is on how his company can help the hometown teams have a competitive edge.

Four decades plus after the university turned to a local company with a global footprint, Carrier Corporation, for financial but not product (air conditioning) assistance to build the Dome and a subsequent 1980’s transformation of Syracuse athletics, the university has again turned to a local company with a global footprint, but this time for both financial (naming rights) and product (5G technology infrastructure) assistance, designed to help the athletic department compete in the ever-changing and most competitive landscape of the Power 5 conference era in collegiate athletics.

“There are many parallels to that time (42 years go),” Mezzalingua said last week. “Syracuse can once again lead and change college athletics. But this time, with the help of 5G technology. There’s a revolution that’s brewing in sports, and 5G is at the heart of it.”

» Related: From Carrier to the JMA Wireless Dome for Syracuse

Mezzalingua has been around the block once or twice. His company has manufacturing, R&D, and sales units in some 20 locations worldwide, and later this year will open its 5G campus on Syracuse’s southside, just 0.8 mi. from the Dome’s Irving Avenue address.

“College sports is absolutely out of control with all the money, the arms race, funds that are being raised and then spent in order to create an edge,” Mezzalingua continued. “There needs to be a new way of competing, and technology is that great equalizer. It will not only transform the experience of fans, players, and coaches, but it has the potential to super charge the competitiveness of Syracuse University and create excellence at the level that we all expect.”

The name Carrier Dome defined success for Syracuse athletics. Mezzalingua and his company team are now committed to building on that tradition with the name JMA Wireless Dome.

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About Brad Bierman 840 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.