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Politics and Government

War Memorial upgrade funding secured

Tom Magnarelli

Onondaga County lawmakers last week approved the bonds the county needs to update the aging War Memorial in downtown Syracuse. The $4.5 million will be supplemented with some state funds and ticket surcharges to pay for the $9 million project that will includes a new scoreboard and marquees. 

The War Memorial opened in 1951, and it doesn’t look much different now than it did then. The hulking gray structure with jutting marquees is home to several displays honoring veterans and the area's military history from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beyond that, it’s been an entertainment venue for everything from an NBA basketball team to Elvis Presley concerts. And while this project pays for badly needed updates, county legislator John Dougherty says it’s time to look ahead.

"It’s just old, and it’s tired and it’s beyond it’s usefulness," Dougherty said. 

He believes at some point, even these most recent improvements will become outdated and a decision will be have to be made about the structure's future.

“I would like to see all the veterans memorials in there moved somewhere temporarily while we rebuild the building that we have, making it much nicer and probably bigger, and then move all those memorials back in," he said. 

Dougherty voted for the bonds and he doesn’t suggest doing anything now, but believes this is the time to start thinking about it.

"Now we should be talking about when these are no longer good enough too, and I think at that point you have to do something big for that building," Dougherty said.

Currently the number-one tenant in the building is the Syracuse Crunch, and officials say the improvements have paved the way for a 12-year commitment for the hockey team to stay in Syracuse.