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SU men's basketball: Winning breeds economic immunity

The crowd at a Syracuse men's basketball game last year was raucous.

The crowd at a Syracuse men's basketball game last year was raucous. SU athletic department

Editor's note:

This story was reported and written prior to the team's first loss and also before former Penn State coach Joe Paterno passed away.

— The Syracuse University men’s basketball team is enjoying some of its biggest success in recent memory this season. At 20-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country as of Jan. 20, the Orange are running toward history while still dealing with the fallout from the Bernie Fine scandal.

Still, in the midst of the stunning accusations about the former assistant coach’s sexual involvement with underage boys is a university engulfed with pride for a team that right now can seem to do no wrong.

Clearly, the Orange’s success outweighs the negative press the school has received, as evidenced by home attendance and the thriving economy around the Carrier Dome and the city in general. The 2010-11 season was the third consecutive campaign the men’s team finished second in the country in home attendance, just behind the University of Kentucky, according to suathletics.com. Syracuse’s 22,312 home average was about 1,300 behind the Wildcats, who have led the statistic for 15 out of the past 16 seasons.

So far this season, the Orange are averaging 21,624 fans per home contest, showing the local mindset wasn’t very affected by the Fine allegations. Couple that with a historic start, and the men’s team has essentially shielded the campus and downtown areas from the seemingly stagnant economy.

Dr. Tom H. Regan, associate professor at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management, has studied the economic impact sports and entertainment have on local and regional economies for the bulk of his adult life. Some of his award-winning studies include an in-depth look at how the Denver Broncos affect the Denver metro area in terms of its economy, and similar insights about his current university’s impact.

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