Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.
There are a select few college hoops arenas that inhabit a special place in athletics venue lore. Hinkle Fieldhouse is the archetypically quaint “field house” college basketball fans like to get all nostalgic about. Cameron Indoor is suffocating for opposing teams, and endearingly cozy for Blue Devil supporters. Pauley Pavilion, renovated or no, remains a special place to sit back and watch the sport we love played amongst some of its best student-athletes. This list is not finite, but if there’s one glaring omission, one historic arena that warrants a spot in any sport’s list of preeminent hosting grounds, it’s the Carrier Dome. Syracuse’s basketball and football home is buried deep in the cultural annals of Orange sports. Its wacky sightlines, baffling seating arrangements and enormous crowds (by college hoops standards) are defining tent poles in Syracuse’s basketball identity.
Since its construction in 1980, the Dome has taken on an almost mythical architectural status among college hoops fans. Whenever Syracuse fans talk about their basketball team, the conversation won’t normally span more than three or four brief exchanges before a simple question is raised: “Have you ever seen a game at the Carrier Dome?” Unfortunately, my only experience at the Dome was for a football game – which, well, let’s leave it there. But plenty of people, particularly those who either attend or once attended the university, have shown up in droves on many a chilly weeknight, or geeked-up College Gameday Saturday, to watch their favorite team play. If, like me, you are among those who still haven’t experienced the Dome’s typically electric hoops environment, you should probably get on that. Like, fast.
That directive is a reaction to a recent article by Donna Ditota of Syracuse Post Standard, who brings to light comments from athletic director Daryl Gross about the Dome’s prospective relinquishing of Orange basketball hosting duties.