In theory, the deal between Syracuse University and The Carrier Corporation that led to the naming of The Carrier Dome made a lot of sense.
At the time, there was no such thing as stadium naming rights. Only a handful of arenas or stadiums actually had corporate names and the idea of a company paying for the right to have their name used for the name of the arena probably seemed...slightly wrong. The same way many people look at advertising on uniforms (which will happen eventually and people will just get used to it).
So when Syracuse got a $2.75 million gift from Carrier to help it meet it's $12 million goal, it made sense to just go ahead and call it The Carrier Dome in perpetuity. It's not like anyone could envision a time when it would come up again in the future...
Oh but the future is now and unfortunately for those who made it, that deal looks pretty terrible through the lens of history.
According to the study, performed by Popp, Northern Illinois professor Chad McEvoy and the University of Delaware's Tim DeSchriver, the average naming rights agreement in college sports is currently worth about $800,000 annually. Syracuse, meanwhile, has received what has worked out to an average of $78,571 from Carrier over 35-plus years.
For an athletics department that's only barely digging itself out of a financial rut, those are painful facts. Think of the lost revenue over the years. Of course, it also means we missed out on The Key Bank Dome, The Jreck Subs Dome and The Billy Fuccillo Dome, but life is a series of trade-offs.
So as Syracuse moves towards a new phase and either replaces or renovates the Dome, is there a way to get out of this naming rights deal so that SU can generate revenue. It would be silly to think SU isn't already trying this and the school remains silent on the issue. Carrier, meanwhile, despite moving tons of jobs and money out of Central New York, still seems to expect the deal to be honored.
"For more than four decades Carrier Corp. has been a proud supporter of Syracuse University, including our 1979 gift that enabled the development of the Carrier Dome and in turn provided us with exclusive naming rights," Carrier said in a statement. "Since 1979, Carrier has contributed $21 million to Syracuse University via the UTC Employee Scholar Program paying employee tuition, fees and books, through Carrier Dome and athletic event support, scholarships and other contributions, including a $1.5 million grant to establish the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Energy and Environmental Studies. We continue to remain in close contact with SU in collaboration on various projects and ways to continue supporting this outstanding institution."
In other words, we gave you a ton of money, so, shut up. And by the letter of the law they're right.
If Syracuse decides to renovate the Dome instead of replacing it, it's probably a moot discussion. But maybe there's a way to change just enough about the facility in order to break the deal. It won't be the deciding factor in this whole saga, but the idea of being able to count on an annual $1 million check that didn't used to be there certainly colors decisions...