SYRACUSE More than 30,000 packed the Carrier Dome on Jan. 11 as SU’s undefeated men’s basketball juggernaut dismantled North Carolina. Way more, perhaps up to 35,000, will be on hand next Saturday night for the arrival of Duke, even if they’re not as imposing as Blue Devil teams from seasons past.
They do this amid increased noise about the future of big sports facilities in this fair city, as the Dome, which will turn 34 years old in September, might not have a long-range future.
Many options are on the table in the talks that have started among some SU and government officials. They run from an upgrading of the Dome’s physical structure, roof to seats, to a new arena that could host the Crunch and concerts, to a 40,000-seat stadium.
First, acknowledge that the Dome is still here for a while. Any arena, or stadium, is several years down the road, and would require hundreds of millions of dollars, either from the university or the state, and you know how much people love stadiums with public funding involved.
Also remember that the ACC welcomed SU into its fold knowing that its all-important football festivities did not measure up to the league’s incumbents. That brings up the “arms race” analogy where some feel that the school must get a new stadium, with all the modern amenities and other fixings, if it wants to really compete.
Then look around the country. In baseball, the Atlanta Braves figured that Turner Field wasn’t good enough, so they’re moving out to Cobb County – just 20 years after the old park opened. In the same town, the Falcons want out of the Georgia Dome, opened in 1992. Multi-purpose stadiums in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Cincinnati barely lasted 30 years before they moved on.
The shelf life for NBA and NHL arenas isn’t too long, either. You get three decades (Philadelphia’s Spectrum, the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles) if you’re lucky. Miami’s original Arena, first home of the Heat, barely lasted two decades. Ditto the first arena in Orlando.