How much longer can/will Syracuse play in the Carrier Dome?
It's unknown if and when Syracuse officials might decide to build a new facility to replace the Carrier Dome, but what's certain: Talks have begun about whether to do just that.
With its move to the ACC, Syracuse takes on a new identity of sorts. It'll face new challenges and be a key cog in that powerful league (basketball-wise) going forward. But more changes could be coming in the foreseeable future.
Could -- not definitely.
A story in the Syracuse Post-Standard details an inevitable conversation that's already been had to some extent by Syracuse brass. What do they do with the Carrier Dome? The iconic stadium went up on the college campus in 1980 and has since become a staple of the city's identity, not to mention the university's/basketball/football/lacrosse programs.
Also, I love how something so signature to Syracuse is still nearly two decades newer to the community than Jim Boeheim.
"I think Central New York deserves an unbelievable place," [Syracuse AD Daryl] Gross said. "You've got all these great new stadiums in New York City and then you start coming upstate and the next biggest thing you run into is the Dome. And so there will be a day one day for folks up here to be able to enjoy and take advantage of those kinds of amenities. That's part of our thinking. We always think that way. And I'm a big dreamer, anyway."
Boeheim prefers to extend the shelf life of a stadium that has helped facilitate unprecedented growth for his program. He believes the Dome, with its quirky visuals, its capacity to accommodate vast basketball crowds and its strong Syracuse association, still serves the university's athletic interests.
"You build a new basketball arena, then you've got a basketball arena, just like everybody else has," Boeheim said. "We have a unique building. And it's in good shape. I'm not sure there's a reason. And if you build a place, where will it be?"
SU's South Campus, where the university owns vast tracts of land, could be a likely resting place for a new facility. Gross has not confirmed where the university might build and when it might initiate serious talks about the process. But he said SU will "think big" about a potential new facility.
While this doesn't feel imminent, I do get the sense some at Syracuse are starting to plan long term/big picture and looking ahead with an understated urgency to it. If and when the Dome gets replaced, it'll surely come at the hands of a fight from the public/Syracuse fans, because normally the hometown honks don't let sentimental stages for their sports teams disappear without a fight.
If the building is in good shape, can handle at least another decade's worth of hosting responsibilities, then you keep it. The basketball team has a state-of-the-art training facility that was built in recent years, and the football program is also soon to get a new practice pad. To those who've visited Syracuse for a game, there's certainly an undeniable "wow" factor to the Dome that still doesn't get old.
More and more schools are looking to build and be known for their new, flashy facilities instead of attaching identities to older buildings that have charm and history. It's an emotion vs. pragmatics. For now, Syracuse seems to be in a comfortable spot between those two ideals. And there is also the option to eventually remodel and remake the building from the inside, keeping it modern without breaking ground on a few facility.
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