The Carrier Dome needs some work done. There's no secret there. How it's going to get done, however, is much more of a mystery. Rumors of a new hard roof and even an entirely new facility have been thrown around since the conversation first started, but major renovations could leave Orange football and basketball out of a home for a season.
New Bubble, No Problem
If the university goes with another air bubble, there's no conflict. Replacing the Carrier Dome's current roof would only take three months and could easily be done in the offseason. Doing anything more makes the situation a little more complicated.
Syracuse has also talked about removing the Carrier Dome's bubble altogether and replacing it with a hard roof, which is a much longer process. The renovation would take eight months at the shortest and would leave Syracuse football and basketball without a place to play its home games for a year.
SU has already thought about this, and in 2014 the university released a study listing possible relocation sites for the Orange if the Dome were to be out of commission. The list includes Madison Square Garden, the Barclays Center and the Syracuse War Memorial for basketball; some of the football candidates are MetLife (because the Orange has such a great record there), Yankee Stadium and Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium. Obviously, none of these alternatives are ideal. All but one take the Orange out of Syracuse, and the War Memorial holds less than 10,000 people.
A Roof... On A Roof?
There is another option. SU could build the Carrier Dome's new roof over the current one and play in the Dome throughout renovations. The BC Place in Vancouver -- home of the CFL's BC Lions -- proposed this plan in 2010. But as Dave Campbell (one of the renovation's engineers) tells Syracuse.com, it wasn't economically feasible.
"The scenario where the building is in use, there's a lot of concern on the part of contractors in terms of liability," Campbell said. "You have to find workers that will agree to do the job under the constraints you have. Is there a way to do it that would allow events to continue? The answer was sort of. But it was way more expensive. At the end it became an economic decision."
Not only would building the BC Place's new roof over the inflatable one have taken more time, it would have required safety precautions which makes the procedure much more expensive. In the end, the Lions relocated to a nearby facility with a carrying capacity of 30,000. Syracuse doesn't have that luxury, and the community has a lot more money to lose by leaving the Dome.
It's All About The Money
Syracuse's study from 2014 estimated the region's economy would lose anywhere from $7 million to $14 million by losing a football season, and moving a single marquee basketball game would cost $2.6 million. Then you also have to factor in the costs of renting out another venue and managing displaced season ticket holders. Not cheap stuff.
But there's no way to tell how much building a hard roof over the bubble would cost since it's never been done before (the BC Place is the closest we've ever gotten). There's a number of variables which could affect the cost, as Campbell told Syracuse.com's Chris Carlson:
"There were some other (things) that we wanted to do (in Vancouver) that didn't make it cost-effective to build over. But there's really no set way of designing or building a long-span roof like the Carrier Dome. There's infinite possibilities. Those infinite possibilities start to be limited by the constraints you put in, like the period of construction, the aesthetics. The cost is a huge one and on and on and on."
Syracuse will hold a "Campus Framework Update Session" on March 2. The university has not said whether the future of the Carrier Dome will be included in the presentation, but the Dome is definitely a part of SU's campus framework that needs addressing.