Saturday's Syracuse-Villanova game is a bit of a hot ticket. Someone is going to be sitting in seat 111 in row V of section 323, which, doesn't even show up on most Dome basketball seating charts. And God forbid you don't have a ticket yet, you're going to be paying through your nostrils. (Of course, you could always try and win two free tickets if you need them).
So with the hype and success that the Villanova game has going for it, and considering they're already pushing seating to the edges of the building, everyone has been asking if and when the Dome will try to put the court in the middle of the building and try to sell-out the entire thing. Before today I would have told you that I think it would happen in the next 1-3 years. After today's Post-Standard article that says Syracuse is already exploring the option, I'd say put some smart money down that it happens next year.
"It’s something we’ve talked about, especially with the great sales in the past and now the sellout with Villanova," SU executive senior athletic director Scott Sidwell said recently. "We’re looking at it more than we have in the past. We need to look at the possibilities and ramifications of getting the court turned."
Big issues (and legit concerns) include how to set it up for season ticket holders who are promised a specific spot in the Dome as well as setting up scoreboards, 35-second shot clocks, television production cables, TV monitors and all the other things needed to run a basketball game and televise it.
The real trick of course is going to be scheduling a game far in advance that you're pretty certain will attract a sell-out crowd. It just so happened to work out that SU-Villanova is the Big East Game of the Year, no one knew that was going to be the case going in to the season. If you arbitrarily decide to use next year's Georgetown game (assuming we play them at home), you better hope both the Orange and Hoyas are as good as they are this year. Of course, you can also try to schedule an A-list non-conference opponent like Kentucky or North Carolina and bank on the name appeal/fanbase to fill the upper decks regardless of records, but we all know how Jim Boeheim feels about such endeavors.
There's also something else to consider. As stadiums like Dallas' new 100K+ mega-stadium become more the norm, the paradigm of how the NCAA chooses to find hosts for its many post-season brackets will change. Eventually, we'll have so many huge stadiums that put the court in the middle of the building that it will not only become a requirement for Final Fours but also the Regionals. If not a requirement, then it will certainly become much more favorable. The Dome needs to prove they can pull this off to ensure that they keep getting a piece of the NCAA Tourney every couple years.
Without knowing the OOC schedule for next season, I would have to guess that Georgetown or UConn will be the opponent of choice for this grand experiment. Especially if one of them looks particularly good heading into the season. The last thing the Dome wants is to try this and end up with the same amount of people in attendance as it would have gotten for a normal set-up. But something tells me, like the Crunch hockey game attendance, Cuse fans will come through.