Known as "the Loud House", the Carrier Dome is home to Syracuse football, basketball and lacrosse, in addition to the New York State Field Band Championship each year. Opened in 1980, the dome has seen plenty of great moments as Syracuse's basketball program has become one of the best teams in the country year in and year out. This can mainly be attributed to head coach Jim Boeheim.
The dome seats a whopping 33,000 fans for basketball, making for the largest on-campus basketball arena in the country. This huge home court advantage has propelled the Orange to great success in the Big East, winning 5 conference tournaments and 10 regular season titles all since 1980. They also won a national title in 2003. The dome is named for the Carrier air conditioning company, but ironically, the dome has no a/c. Obviously, this is not a big deal for basketball season.
The uniqueness of the dome makes for one of the best college basketball atmospheres in the nation.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food experience at the Dome is actually pretty bizarre. Food varies somewhat in quality and the pricing makes no sense at all, but there's good selection and the prices are actually quite low, except for the Burger King.
Beers are $6. You can have a 16oz draft of the staple Budweiser, or regional favorite Labatt Blue. If you're feeling a little picky, you can also buy a 12oz bottle (poured into a cup) of Coors or Yuengling. The beer selection is haphazard. There are vendors every 15 feet, but you can't ever be sure what variety they're going to offer. To get Yuengling you had to go onto the Dome floor, behind the installed bleachers. Single-serving bottles of lousy Sutter Home wine are also available for a dollar more. Beer concessions are cut off after halftime so guzzle up early.
There's a wide variety of food choices on hand. Hoffman hot dogs and conies, local delicacies, are available for $3.50. However, they are cooked horribly and are served rubbery and gross. If you get a chance, visit Heid's in nearby Liverpool for a proper Hoffman - it'll take you an hour off course, but it's worth the trip.
You can get standards such as nachos, soft pretzels, popcorn and candy for $3-$4 per. Soft drinks are a reasonable $3.50 ($5 in a huge souvenir cup) and bottled water is $3.50 as well. There are a several water fountains throughout the concourses which are completely serviceable, if you don't mind filling a beer cup to save the environment. Haagen Daz and Ben & Jerry's ice cream bars are $4.
Where the Dome really shines is in the "real food" category. Pulled pork or chicken sandwiches are a mind-bogglingly low $5.50. Sausage sandwiches are $4.50. Wraps are available at concessions for $5.50, but include a vegetarian option and a fancy cranberry turkey. One cart was selling fresh hot roast beef sandwiches for $6.50. There's also an Italian bistro counter that serves cheese-stuffed rotini, baked ziti, and big salads for highly reasonable prices. Burger King is the standout fast food option but it's highly overpriced with a Whopper costing nearly $10, so I'd only recommend that only in the case of a severe jones.
Residing in one of the snowiest cities in America, the Orange faithful don't let winter's precipation stop them from packing the Carrier Dome. The exterior of the Loud House is littered with gates, and I can't say one is better than any other. It would likely depend on where you're sitting.
Both levels of concourses are plenty wide, even during busy periods (halftime, after the game), as they circle the entire stadium. Seats are almost all bleachers, with the lower levels having backs, and the upper level not. The metal bleachers can be unforgiving, but college basketball is shorter than most other sports, and media timeouts occur very often, allowing one to relieve themselves of the bleachers. All of the seats provide quality sightlines, except for the "long range" seats, which have obstructed views by the set of bleachers opposite the main section of seating. This temporary bleacher seating, has orange Syracuse seat cushions on it, as do some of the other lower sections. The court is at one end of the football field, so the temporary bleachers are at about the 30 yard line. These seats are the only ones that allow you to see the center court logo correctly.
A neat feature about the dome is the fan fest that goes on at the opposite side of the football field. All sorts of booths are set up, selling food, team merchandise, and providing other typical game day experiences. From this area you can also get really close to the court for the pre-game. Even the highest seats at the dome are quality, and they provide a unique perspective that you likely cannot find anywhere else in the world of college basketball.
Syracuse's bench is above and to the left of their logo if looking at it correctly, with the opposition to the right of center court. Both teams enter from behind their respective benches. The dome does have a few boxes that are in view of the basketball court, but a majority of the boxes are suited for football. There are large video boards at either end (behind the football endzones), and there are additional boards providing the linescore, time, and other useful information in the corner on the visitor's side and at the top of the temporary bleachers. Otto the Orange is the lovable mascot, one of the least intimidating in sports. There was no pep band on this night, but they set up near the student section behind the basket closer to the SU bench. Overall sound quality was good, with an entertaining PA announcer. There were some promotions where kids had to put on a Syracuse uniform and then make a lay-up, and another interesting one sponsored by a local furniture store, where a guy made a free throw in a recliner, winning some furniture in the process.
Because the Carrier Dome is on the Syracuse University campus, the immediate neighborhood is basically non-existent. The campus is worth exploring, with unique and interesting architecture, but in the cold Syracuse winters most people won't want to bother. A 5-10 minute walk brings you to Marshall Street, which caters to the student crowd during the year - a few gear shops and cheap restaurants get seriously packed before games. Faegan's Pub on Crouse Ave (the end of Marshall St) is highly popular, serving a wide variety of beer and decent food.
If you can go to the famous Dinosaur BBQ in the downtown area, do it. Please. For the love of everything holy, stuff your face here. Just get there early - on a Saturday, for a 4:00 game, the wait at noon was well over an hour. You won't find better barbecue in the Northeast, and this is the original restaurant that started it all. In general, the Armory Square area of Syracuse has a plethora of really good restaurants and bars. Two favorites are the Blue Tusk and the Empire Brewing Company.
One of the coolest traditions I've been apart of, the entire crowd stands until Syracuse makes a basket at the beginning of each half. Then they go bizerk. They are a passionate, knowledgable fanbase, creating a sea of orange in support of their boys. The shear number of Orange faithful that turn out for each game is worthy of five stars alone, not to mention they make for one of the most intimidating home courts in the country. They were respectful of the opposition, although it wasn't a rivalry game nor was the student body present. You really have to go see them for yourself.
The Carrier Dome is located on campus in the city, so alas, there is really no great, certain parking options near the dome unless you are a big-time donor and are able to secure a pass allowing you to park on campus. That being said, it is extremely easy to park at Manley Field House or Skytop and take the shuttle bus to the dome. It is a short ride, and the in-out at these lots isn't terrible for most games. On this night parking was $12 at Manley, which seemed fair given you are seeing one of the top programs in the country in a conference game. It should be noted that the price of parking likely fluctuates, as it isn't advertised at all on the SU website.
There doesn't appear to be any great ways of taking mass transit there, although Syracuse's CENTRO bus system is very extensive throughout the area.
Some spots along the main concourse do offer viewing of the court, but most do not. Restrooms are located all throughout the dome, and are more than enough, with lines only really accumulating during halftime. The men's bathroom has something that looks like a pig trough, rather than your typical urinals. Getting into the dome was no problem as the security check was quick.
So the day of the game I was able to score two tickets off StubHub for 25 bucks each (fees included) , which is an amazingly good deal to be able to take in a game at the dome. Tickets are available on the SU website, and you can get a pair of tickets for most games up high above the baseline, for less than 100 dollars. I'd be willing to pay that too. The atmosphere is just that good. Food was overall fairly priced, as was parking. This has got to be one of the top five college basketball atmospheres in the nation, especially when the opponent is a conference foe.
It's basketball in a dome. Awesome. Wait til the wind burst you get when exiting through the non-revolving door!
Lots of Syracuse photos of ALL sports line the concourses, very cool. There's orange everywhere you look!
Banners, jerseys, and tributes to former teams and players hang from the rafters all throughout the Carrier Dome, mostly focused in the corners.
You can get practically courtside all throughout the pregame, can't say that about most places.
Ushers and ticket-takers were extremely friendly and helpful.
However, the Orange are departing for the ACC, leaving their Big East rivalries behind them, hindering them a point.
In contrast to the football experience at the Carrier Dome, going to see a Syracuse Orange men's basketball game is a pretty remarkable experience. The Dome isn't flashy, but it offers a huge and enthusiastic crowd, a good selection of fairly priced food, and well"¦ you can drink in an on-campus stadium. So that's cool. After over three decades of the Jim Boeheim era and a fair amount of success, the Orange basketball team has become the de facto college basketball team to support in upstate New York. The fan base is one of the largest in the country, and during the long, quiet and dreary winters of Syracuse, an energizing and entertaining trip to the Dome really illustrates just why the Orange are so popular.
The Carrier Dome seats roughly 50,000 during football season, but for basketball the court is laid out at one end of the football field and bleachers are installed across the field, limiting capacity to about 33,000"¦ which is still a monstrous crowd for a basketball game.
The dome is an awesome home for an awesome team
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