Carrier Dome Daze (and Haze)

Posted by: on Aug 21, 2013 | No Comments
Dome Sweet Dome!

Dome Sweet Dome!

Carrier Dome Daze (and Haze)

Yesterday I was interviewed by Natsumi Ajiska, who writes for the Daily Orange, the campus newspaper at my alma mater (that would be Syracuse University in case you haven’t noticed). She was writing an article about the Carrier Dome and looking for someone who had been there on the day it opened…and I was:

I was also there for the last game in Archbold Stadium. My dorm room freshman year faced the stadium and I lived through the first few months of demolition. I was there for the last basketball game in Manley Fieldhouse, the saddest moment of my 4 years at SU.  I was in the Dome for the first football and basketball games.

On September 20, 1980, the Carrier Dome played host to it’s first game, SU vs the Miami of Ohio.  Game time was scheduled for early afternoon.  Only one small problem….it was also Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish year where Jews are supposed to fast, go to temple and ask for forgiveness.  OY!

Now at a place like Notre Dame, or any of the large midwestern schools, this is not much of a problem.  At SU, with a student body that was 25-30% Jewish and a sizable Jewish population in the city of Syracuse and surrounding areas, this was a wee bit of an issue. Once the university discovered the error of their ways (and I forgive them), the decision was made to move the game time back into the evening, 7:30 or so (if my memory is correct).

At the time, I was living with my 2 roomies, Mike Solondz and Dave Grossman, at 1019 Harrison Street, in the original Castle in what is now called Castle Court.

The 1019 Harrison Street Family Portrait - Mike Solondz, Dave Grossman and Ira Berkowitz.

The 1019 Harrison Street Family Portrait – Mike Solondz, Dave Grossman and Ira Berkowitz.

That’s the roomies and me in the fall of 1980. Had our picture taken at Shoppingtown Mall, put it in a nice frame and it hung in our apartment, just like family…and for 2 years, we were and still are.

We had been living in our apartment for just a few weeks, when it was decided that Yom Kippur would be the perfect time to throw a big party  – a break fast into the Carrier Dome opening pregame. And so it went.  We broke fast at 5:30, tapped the keg at 6 and it was off to the game. Nothing like getting a fresh start of our sins for next Yom Kippur!
Editors Note – as far as I’m concerned, this was the birth of the now world famous Castle Parties.

It was a beautiful day up in Syracuse, temperature was probably in the high 70s.  Upon entering The Dome, you had to notice 2 things:  First, it was really warm in the Dome; second there appeared to be a layer of fog or a high cloud near the ceiling. At first, I thought it was me seeing things through the pregame party haze. Upon further inspection, there really was a thin cloud atop The Dome. In what can only be described as the ultimate case of irony, The Carrier Dome, named after a large air conditioning company, actually has no AC of it’s own. I know…how stupid but that’s what you get for under $30,000,000. Ventilation was strictly done au natural with a series of vents and airflow. Only problem was when they designed the place, nobody took into account the body heat of 50,000 screaming fans…or so urban legend has it.  Needless to say, it was a 3 H day in the dome: Hazy, hot and humid.  On a side note, SU went on to win the opening game but the game itself was probably the least memorable part of the day, at least for me.

One other thing I remember about the opening year in The Dome. Can’t remember the specific game but I do recall one play where Joe Morris, our star running back at the time, was tackled out of bounds and knocked into one of concrete walls off the sideline.  Seems like somebody forgot about padding a problem that was quickly fixed. These things do get taken care of when your star player gets hurt running into an unpadded concrete wall.

For 33 years, the big pillow has stood as an icon of SU. Over the years, I’ve visited The Dome many times. Football, basketball, freshman orientation, lacrosse and the graduation of our daughter Allie in 2011. Already got my tickets for the homecoming (and it is Homecoming god damn it!) game the first weekend in October, hotels booked for the SU v Duke basketball in February and we are ready for graduation weekend 2014 when our son Zach becomes an alum.

Not much has changed in The Dome over the past 33 years. The aluminum bench seats are still uncomfortable, the men’s bathroom troughs are the same (and I don’t think they have changed the hardware in all those years) and there’s not nearly enough bathrooms in the place, it’s still cramped and there is still no AC. Yes, they have updated the scoreboards and added some amenities but I still think there is room for improvement. I’d like to see The Dome live on for years and years, so that I can continue to visit my alma mater for football, basketball and more. Who knows, maybe someday I will return to see the next generation of my family walk into The Dome on graduation day. That would be nice….as would a nice cushy and comfy chair.