The survey says: Keep the Dome!
That’s the consensus of 122 people who took a survey about the Carrier Dome’s future. The participants selected from three options under consideration for the Dome: A new permanent roof, a replacement of the Dome’s Teflon roof, or a new facility altogether. The new inflatable roof was the top choice, getting 51 votes.
Survey participants were also asked to pick from a variety of amenities they’d like to see a new or renovated stadium have. Among the choices were air conditioning, better acoustics, more comfortable seats and better bathrooms.
Air conditioning tended to rank as the highest priority.
“Graduation was much too warm and sweaty,” one respondent wrote.
“It gets so disgustingly hot,” another wrote, “that fans become disinterested in the actual game.”
Several pro air conditioning responses noted the irony of a building named after an air conditioning company lacking such functionality. For some, the lack of suitable temperature controls is the difference between good and bad experiences at the Dome.
“When it’s too hot or too cold in the Dome,” a respondent wrote, “that can ruin an event, especially graduation.”
More comfortable seats were also a favored improvement sought by the survey takers. “The seats are very uncomfortable at times,” one said. “Bleachers hurt my butt,” another respondent said.
Those nuisances, though, have not soured people on the Dome experience overall, and many want to make sure the Dome maintains the elements that make it iconic: A large, indoor, on-campus facility with its distinctive roof.
“The Dome has to stay on campus and stay as similar to the original as possible,” one survey participant wrote. Others said that, regardless of the changes made, they would like to see the Dome continue to be used for university events.
“The Dome has become a symbol of SU Athletics and Syracuse in general,” wrote one respondent. “Plus, money spent on building a whole new facility could be better spent elsewhere.”
Another survey participant stated, “I think the current appearance of the Carrier Dome is important to the image of Syracuse and, if the top is changed, then it wouldn’t be the same.”
It is expected that the university’s 65-member Board of Trustees, whose most recent meeting was on Nov. 6, will make a final decision by the end of the current school year. However, there is no set timetable and that date could change. The final decision will be primarily based on its long-term sustainability for the university.
The Dome remains one of few air-supported stadiums in the United States. Building a permanent fixed roof would require significant construction as well as funding from outside sources to pay for it. At one point, the Board briefly considered the option of a new stadium off-site. “But that doesn’t have a lot of momentum at this point,” said Kevin Quinn, senior vice president of public affairs at Syracuse University.
Quinn compared building a new inflatable roof to buying a rotary phone. Both products, once popular staples, have gone out of style.
Since it opened in September 1980, the Dome has become a local landmark and a beacon of the Syracuse city skyline. A younger Kevin Quinn felt especially awestruck seeing the Dome for the first time. Today, he feels the building remains a positive connection to the Central New York region.
The Dome is “an iconic building that helps define Syracuse,” Quinn said.
The survey was conducted for The NewsHouse from Nov. 9 to Nov. 18, 2015. It was distributed using student social networks and mostly completed by students at SU, although the survey was open to everyone. The survey asked participants to pick between the three options under consideration for the Dome (replace the Teflon roof with a similar material, build a new permanent roof or build a completely new facility.) Respondents then ranked five amenities- air conditioning, better acoustics, better bathrooms, a different seating arrangement and seats that are more comfortable. The respondents ranked air conditioning first most often. It also had the highest average rank, followed by seats that are more comfortable.