In a major move that would affect several programs, Syracuse University is planning a $205 million renovation to the Carrier Dome. Among the changes that would be put into place include a new fixed roof, as well as technology and accessibility upgrades that would enhance the fan experience for both basketball, football, and lacrosse.
The Carrier Dome, which first opened in 1980, has hosted Syracuse Orange men’s basketball and football throughout its history, with both women’s basketball and lacrosse also playing in the facility. From the very beginning, the Carrier Dome has used a Teflon-coated, fiberglass roof that is inflatable, a structure that resembles the look and feel of the bygone Metrodome in Minneapolis.
Now the university is making a new roof a priority. As part of the renovation plan, $105 million will be spent to replace the current roof with a fixed structure that would give the Carrier Dome a more modern look.
Early plans are calling for a fixed roof that will make the venue more transparent, and provide exposure for natural daylight. University officials have cited a specific model in U.S. Bank Stadium, the soon-to-open new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. That venue is characterized by a translucent roof and support structure that allows for views of the surrounding area.
In Syracuse’s case, the roof could lead to some dramatic changes to the Carrier Dome, the exterior of which has always been characterized by a large concrete façade. The new dome would give a translucent look to the venue, and possibly open up views of the campus community.
One product of the roof replacement is the addition of LED lighting, which could have a sweeping effect on the Carrier Dome experience. The hope is that the addition of LED lighting will provide better production value for gameday events, and add a new element to the exterior. In Minnesota, for instance, the Vikings have the ability to host light shows that are open to passersby and give the stadium a different look depending upon the event.
To this point, the roof has been the clearest priority for Syracuse, which is planning to release more details on the project in early June. A release from the university in the middle of May stated that another $100 million will be spent on the Carrier Dome. Thus far, the university has said that many of the changes made to the venue will improve accessibility to better meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
When it comes to football-specific changes, more details will likely be released over the coming months. It should be noted that, on the football side, the last major upgrade to the Carrier Dome came last fall, when a new FieldTurf Classic HD playing surface was installed. This new surface allowed the football and lacrosse programs to utilize the same type of field for both games and practices, as it was installed to coincide with the opening of the Ensley Athletic Center.
One issue that has been on the minds of many observers is whether Syracuse can replace the roof without displacing any of its teams for the course of a season. University officials have expressed confidence that the project can be completed without the loss of games, but as Syracuse.com has noted, similar overhauls are rare among North American sporting venues. A comparison that was made to the Carrier Dome plan was the replacement of the roof at BC Place in Vancouver, which did result in the temporary relocation of CFL’s BC Lions.
The Carrier Dome renovations are part of the larger West Campus Project. Part of that plan includes a $50 million investment to convert the Archbold Gymnasium into a health and wellness center.
No specific timeline has been announced to this point, but the university has taken the step to procure Populous as the architect and Turner Construction Company for the building. The university must replace the roof every 25 years, with a new structure due by 2024, according to Syracuse.com.
Image of Carrier Dome courtesy of Syracuse Orange football.
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