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Assessing potential homes for Syracuse football during Dome renovations

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It’s unlikely there’s a single solution here, unfortunately...

NCAA Football: Louisville at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Syracuse Orange athletic director mentioned that the impending (timeline TBD) Carrier Dome renovations were making it harder to schedule future dates for the football program.

This, of course, means that it’s likely the renovations cut into the season — if not multiple seasons for various sports. Renovations were also mentioned as a factor around Syracuse men’s lacrosse hosting the 2020 ACC Tournament (or not).

Assuming Orange football will have to miss a season’s worth of home games (again, no one’s said this, but we’re putting some pieces together), we have some questions:

  • Which season?
  • Where are they playing the other game?

Question No. 1 could be any number of seasons from 2018 through 2020, really. Syracuse has a prominent non-conference road opponent scheduled for each of those already (Notre Dame, Maryland, Wisconsin). The 2018 schedule already features two non-conference home games (UConn, Wagner), versus one for 2019 (Holy Cross) and zero for 2020. We’d probably want that middle season out of those.

So assuming 2019, here’s what needs to be redirected elsewhere right now:

Holy Cross, Boston College, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest

Ideally, you’d just make the last two 2019 non-conference matchups into road games, to avoid the difficulty of moving another “home” game to another venue. It could also set up the back-end of a home-and-home at the renovated Dome later. Let’s say both of these are Group of Five schools in strong recruiting areas. We don’t need to dive into which specific schools those would be right now (because I promised last week that I wouldn’t).

But onto the venues for the five home games. Let’s assume we pick a different one for each game, to help with logistics:

NCAA Football: Colgate at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Holy Cross: Andy Kerr Stadium (Hamilton, N.Y.)

The Dome’s been half full or a bit more for Labor Day weekend, so why not just play in front of a probably full stadium an hour away instead? In an ideal world, you’d play Colgate at their home stadium. Instead, Syracuse gets to be the “home” team here for a small fee, but at a 100-percent Orange stadium of 10,221 fans then.

Boston College: Alumni Stadium (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)

Ideally, you’d want this game to be at an indoor stadium this late in the season (probably the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as is typical). But without that as an option, you could give the Eagles the home game here and then rotate the 2020 BC home game back to Syracuse. By 2021, we’d be back on the right schedule again. Plus, not a bad deal potentially getting eight home gate receipts for 2020 to re-open the Dome.

Clemson: New Era Field (Buffalo, N.Y.)

The biggest opponent gets the biggest field. And to be honest, there’s a chance that the Tigers’ matchup against the Orange could draw at least 60,000 or so if Dino Babers’s program revitalization goes as planned. The Bills’ home stadium has artificial turf (though not the FieldTurf at the Dome right now), so that could potentially help matters for SU’s players. Ideally, you’d want this one in the first two months of the season so as not to turn it into a disadvantage for the Orange tempo.

NCAA Football: Lafayette at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh: Michie Stadium (West Point, N.Y.)

Perhaps a pipe dream to be able to use Army’s historic home field for a game that doesn’t involve the Black Knights. But a larger venue that’s closer to downstate (and alums for both Pitt and Syracuse) could be a solid test run for the Orange’s upcoming series with Army. Michie seats 38,000 and sports FieldTurf. SU fans would get their bet tailgating of the season, probably. It’s another game that would hopefully take place earlier in the season.

Wake Forest: University at Buffalo Stadium (Buffalo, N.Y.)

Not particularly close, and we’d probably be chalking this crowd up to a lost cause given the lack of proximity for everyone and lesser fan interest. But perhaps if you tossed the Bulls a two-for-one deal once the Army series wrapped up (so as not to double down on New York State), this could happen for cheap. With 33,500 seats, it’s probably still a little roomy for this matchup. But just in case both teams are doing really well, it’s worth having the extra allotment of space very far off-campus.

Baylor v Buffalo Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Definitely tried to keep things close to campus where possible and deal with the logistics of future scheduling. Ideally, you’d just move all four ACC games to road dates, but then that sets up an eight-game home schedule in 2020. Temporary solutions at one-off sites (and just one “home” game on the road) probably work better than that — or tossing all the games to Buffalo, where they’ll see low attendance no matter how good the Orange are.

Have other ideas? Feel free to express them with as much positive or negative intent as you’d like in the comments.