The Carrier Dome is a 49,250-seat sports stadium located on the campus of Syracuse University (SU). It is the only domed stadium in the Northeast, and is the largest structure of its kind on a college campus in the country.
Since its opening on September 20, 1980, the facility has hosted a wide variety of events. The facility serves as the home of the SU football, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s lacrosse. Furthermore, the "Dome" has hosted numerous rounds of NCAA championships in basketball, lacrosse and track and field and hosts regional and state scholastic competitions in football, as well as NBA pre-season games.
In addition to sporting events, the Dome has staged Olympic champion ice skating shows, as well as concerts by stars such as Elton John, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, U2, Genesis, the Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks, The Who, Neil Diamond, Pink Floyd and many other rock and country performers.
SU’s annual Commencement ceremony and various academic convocations take place in the Dome. The Billy Graham Crusade visited Syracuse and the Carrier Dome in 1989. Moreover, the annual celebration honoring the life of Martin Luther King Jr. is hosted in the Dome every January.
All told, by September, 2008 more than 26 million patrons have attended Carrier Dome events!
Construction: The Dome was constructed between April, 1979 and September, 1980. Total construction cost was $26.85 million, including a $2.75 million naming gift from Carrier Corporation. Hueber, Hunt and Nichols, Inc. was the general contractor and Birdair Structure Inc. out of Buffalo was in charge of roof construction.
In all, more than 80 companies contributed to transforming 30,000 cubic yards of concrete and 880 tons of steel into the fifth largest domed stadium in the United States and the first such facility in the Northeast.
Roofing and Dimensions
The current teflon-coated, fiberglass fabric for the Carrier Dome’s 64 roof panels is 6.5 acres – 287,000 square feet – worth of SHEERFILL I and an inner liner of FABRASORB. The roof is held together by a latticework of cables. The 14 bridge cables – some as long as 700 feet and weighing seven tons – not only hold the roof panels together, but also support the Carrier Dome’s massive lighting and sound systems. The current roof was installed during the summer of 1999 for an estimated cost of $14 million.
Sixteen five-foot diameter fans located in mechanical rooms on the north and south sides of the building are used to keep the Carrier Dome’s 220-ton roof inflated. Each fan has the capacity to generate 95,000 cubic feet of air movement per minute, giving the total operation a capacity of moving well over one million cubic feet of air per minute.
Air is directed upward through the Carrier Dome’s 36 main columns and under the Dome’s roof. Each of the 36 concrete columns stands 60 feet high and weighs 40 tons.
Prior to the start of any snow storm, air heated to 160 degrees is pumped into the dead air space between the two layers of the Carrier Dome’s roof, melting the snow before it can accumulate. Runoff is caught in the Dome’s compression ring where 36 drain pipes direct it down through the Dome’s walls and into the city’s sewer system.
The Carrier Dome is 570 feet long by 497 feet wide; the top of the inflated roof is 165 feet above the playing surface.
Entry to the Carrier Dome is gained through one of 32 revolving doors. An additional 62 "out only" crash doors are used to help speed crowd flow after games, giving the Dome a total of 94 exit doors. Gates A and C on the lower level and Gate G on the upper level have a special air lock entry door to allow access for patrons utilizing wheelchairs and people with mobility limitations.
Lighting and Sound
Illumination within the Dome’s main arena is provided by 432 metal halide MultiVapor bulbs (1,500 watts each), 60 quartz flood lights (1,500 watts each) and 56 high pressure sodium lights. That lighting package, which was updated in 1989, lights a playing surface that is 215 feet by 405 feet.
The sound system, which was also updated in 1989 and again in 1999, consists of 8 distributed clusters of BOSE speakers that hang from the roof cables. In addition, speakers have been installed in the two concourses, under the overhangs on the second level seating, and in stairwells, offices and other hard-to-reach areas. A separate outside speaker system is also in place.
The full Dome consists of approximately 48,200 aluminum bleacher seats, 850 theater seats (in each of the Dome’s 41 private box suites and executive club suite) and approximately 200 seats for media in the Press Box which is located on the second level, south side. The north and south bleacher stands have platforms for wheelchair patrons that are utilized for both football and basketball viewing. The entire east end-zone at the lower level concourse is accessible for wheelchairs. There are also platforms for wheelchairs on the second level for football, and there is a wheelchair platform in front of the east rolling bleacher stands for basketball viewing. For concerts, up to 7,000 temporary seats can be put on the floor of the Dome. We seat approximately 49,250 persons for a sold-out Syracuse University football game.
Meetings can take place in the Varsity Club Room and Ernie Davis Memorial area located on the east end of the first-level concourse. The 4,400 square feet can be divided into three separate rooms. In addition to this space, often used for meetings, luncheons and dinners, there are 14 concessions stands, 16 rest rooms, 16 water fountains, five locker rooms, and a first-aid room near section 102.
Scoreboard and Video Screens
The Carrier Dome’s Daktronics, Inc. scoreboard system replaced the original scoreboard in 1993. In addition to displaying the usual game-in-progress information, the system is capable of displaying a combination of statistics, out-of-town scores, player photos and various graphic animations. The main scoreboard measures 13 feet high by 46 feet wide and is located on the wall above the stadium’s west end-zone. It consists of a matrix of 28,160 light bulbs (80 bulbs high by 352 bulbs across). Three smaller repeater boards – 3 feet high by 32 feet wide – are located between the stadium’s second and third levels, two at the 20-yard line (northwest and southwest sides) and the third in the east end-zone.
A state-of-the-art LED Video Display System, manufactured by Daktronics Inc., (as well as a control room, three cameras and computer support equipment) was installed in the summer of 2003, and features 2 video boards (15′ x 25′) that are located on the east end and north-west corners of the 3rd level, along with 58 color TVs for the back rows of the 2nd and 1st levels.
A parking platform for television vehicles (outside Gate B on the south side) was constructed in 1994 which provides easy camera and audio cable hook-up direct to the press box and to the various camera locations in the Carrier Dome.