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SU group offers backup plans if Carrier Dome becomes inoperable

Ellen Abbott
Rick Burton serves as chairman for a Syracuse University work group searching for emergency options if the Carrier Dome fails.

A special work group at Syracuse University has laid out several options in case the Carrier Dome is ever incapacitated.

The group has come up with a back-up plan to deal with the 275 events that happen in SU’s iconic stadium.

So what would happen to Syracuse University's most high profile sports if the Carrier Dome became inoperable for a long period of time?

“There is not really an alternative for basketball, and there are distant alternatives for football.” says Rick Burton of SU’s sports management department. He led a fact finding study about the worst case scenarios for the 35-year-old Carrier Dome.

Burton says there are several problems that could develop, especially in the winter, that could hurt the dome's use.

"The most obvious is, there’s more than six and a half acres of roof up there, and if you have a major snowstorm -- and we’ve had this before -- where we’ve had to consider a controlled deflation of the roof just because of the weight sitting on the roof of the dome," Burton said.

"But there are other ways, like any stadium in America, if you had a power failure, you couldn’t actually operate the dome.”

The work group suggests possible football venues that could replace the dome in a pinch or over a long period of time.

“The first thing you might do would be to consider Ralph Wilson (Stadium near Buffalo), but that might not be possible if it’s a home weekend for the Buffalo Bills," Burton explained.

He also suggests the home stadium for the NFL's New York Giants and Jets in northern New Jersey, or Yankee Stadium in New York City, where Syracuse has played bowl games before.

"Then you have a whole host of other factors to consider: the inconvenience to your students, the inconvenience to season ticket holders," he said.

Basketball becomes trickier, said Burton, because there are few venues that can hold as many fans as the Carrier Dome for a basketball game. Among those sites would be Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

“I think it’s a challenge, given how big our crowds traditionally are," Burton explained. "And you can imagine if you had that happen with the Duke game, and now you’re not talking about a 20,000 seat stadium where you play at Madison Square Garden, you’re talking about our possibility of having 35,000 fans at a game, and now there are very few places in America where you can take a game."

The hypothetical loss of the dome would also have a big economic impact on the area, to the tune of $35 million.

Burton says this study simply lays out the facts, and doesn’t have anything to do with the recent debate over building a new stadium in Syracuse that could house SU sports.

The future of the iconic stadium has been the subject of a wide ranging community, after a proposal to build a new stadium in Syracuse was floated earlier this year.

Dome Workgroup Summary

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.