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Carrier Dome renovations: Can Syracuse build new roof over the old roof?

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Some news on the Dome front today...

Duke v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson attended today’s Syracuse University campus framework presentation, to see if there was any news around the upcoming Carrier Dome renovation.

While nothing concrete (excuse the pun) was shared, SU’s Pete Sala did have a few things to say:

That second bit is bold — though welcome if it’s feasible. It’s obviously not ideal for the school to lose out on a full season of football and/or basketball gate revenue while the program(s) barnstorms around the New York State area.

But is it feasible?

Back in 1982, just a few years after our Dome was open for business, Idaho’s Kibbie Dome built a “superstructure” over its leaky canopy roof.

A frequently-cited “similar” project is Vancouver’s BC Place, which completed widespread renovations (especially to the roof) in 2010 for the Olympics. That project was originally quoted at $100 million. It ended up running a whopping $514 million.

Right now, Syracuse is working with $205 million for all of it — so, not just the roof. If any roof rebuild/replacement runs significantly over budget, the school could be forced to cut out other upgrades in favor of completing the roof. Or secure more funds, of course. Bu there’s been no indication if that could occur, or where those funds would come from.

When first broaching the issue of replacing the roof while the Dome was still in full use for football and basketball, Carlson cited a number of intelligent folks that worked on the BC Place project to spell out some of the issues with keeping the Dome running while renovating it.

Doug Hanning of Stantec:

"We took a crack at that (at BC Place). We planned to build the structure from around the perimeter, and leave the roof in place and then, when it was constructed, over a short period we'd deflate the old roof, clip it off, patch up the holes and open the doors in a remarkably short period of time."

"You're trying to work with cranes from the perimeter, from around the edges. You're trying to reach halfway across the football field with a crane that's on the outside edge and 100 feet in the air. When we built this thing, we didn't put the crane on the outside edge, we put it in the middle. We found it cost-effective to do it that way. Can you do it from the outside and then in some very short period do it from the inside? Sure. We decided it wasn't worth it. Safety, cost, it wasn't worth it. It fell off our matrix pretty quickly."

The BC Place renovation wasn’t THAT long ago. It would be surprising if those major and costly concerns just disappeared overnight. Another expert Carlson cited, NBBJ’s Andrzej Czech, said that UCLA saved close to $30 million by just displacing the team for a season while they renovated Pauley Pavilion in one shot.

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This isn’t to say it CAN’T happen the way Sala is describing. But it would certainly present its fair share of difficulties and costs. With all the continued uncertainty around the exact details of the renovation, it’s no shock that SU avoids committing too much to record on what exactly will occur.

Elsewhere, however, there seems to be movement on “the Arch” -- the new health and wellness building that will replace Archbold/Flanagan Gymnasiums and create much better facilities around student health, fitness, wellness and related majors right in the center of campus. Sala expects that construction to potentially begin by this December.

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Again, lots in flux here, but there are signs that pieces are starting to move on the campus framework project. The Dome’s turn will come. And until then (hoping soon, though), we wait.