The Carrier Dome is another one of the many interesting, beautiful and signature places in my hometown of Syracuse, New York. Every aspect of this building is fascinating and one that will remain that way throughout the rest of its existence.

From the Beginning

The Carrier Dome (known as just "The Dome" to most people in Syracuse) first opened September 20, 1980 and is a 50,000-seat sports stadium on the campus of Syracuse University. It headed out on the beginning of the building process in April of 1979, and finally was finished in 1980. The total construction cost an amazing $26.85 million, and that included a $2.75 million naming gift from the Carrier Corporation. Birdair Structure Inc. located in Buffalo, New York was in control of the roof construction with Hueber, Hunt and Nichols, Inc. as the general contractor. However, those are only 2 out of the total 80 companies that pitched in to get 30,000 cubic yards of concrete and 880 tons of steel turned into the 5th largest domed stadium in the United States. It is also the first largest domed stadium in the Northeast, measuring 570 feet long by 497 feet wide.

A Whole New Meaning to "Raise the Roof"

The Dome has a ceiling formed of 64 teflon-coated, fiberglass fabric panels. Together this roof equals 6.5 acres of FABRASORB in the inner layer, and SHEERFILL II in the outer layer. All of this is held together by a huge amount of cable latticework. There is a total of 14 bridge cables (some of which measure 700 feet and weighing in at 7 tons) that both hold the roof panels together as well as the Carrier Dome's massive sound and light system.

More About This Masterpiece Ceiling

The ceiling is 165 feet above the playing surface, with 16 five-foot fans in mechanical rooms on both the north and south side of the building working to keep the Dome's 220 ton ceiling up. Each one of these fans has the ability to create 95,000 cubic feet of air movement per second, which in turn gives this entire aspect of the Dome the power to create well over 1 million cubic feet of air per minute. All of this air is directed upward and under the double-layered roof through 36 concrete columns each weighing 40 tons and standing 60 feet high.

Controlling The Weather

At the beginning of a snow storm, air that is heated to 160 degrees is pumped into the dead air space between the two layers of the roof. This then melts any snow laying on the surface and turns it into water where the runoff is directed off into one of 36 drain pipes through the Dome's compression ring. This water is then lead directly to the city's sewer system.

The In's and Out's

One can get into the Carrier Dome through any one of the 32 revolving doors. However, when leaving, there is an additional 62 "out only" doors to choose from. These doors help speed up the exit of the massive crowds at the end of an event. There are also several levels that have air lock entry that allow access for attendees that use wheelchairs and people with mobility limitations.

Let There Be Light (And Sound)

Getting into some serious illumination, the Dome's main arena is lit by 432 metal halide MultiVapor bulbs (1,500 watts each), 60 quartz flood lights (1,500 watts each) and 56 high pressure sodium lights. This system of lights was updated in 1989 and covers any of its playing surfaces that are 215 feet by 405 feet. The sound system was also updated in 1989 and 1999 as well, giving the Dome 8 distributed clusters of BOSE speakers that are suspended from roof cables. There have also been new additions of speakers in 2 concourses, under the overhangs on the second level, offices, stairwells, and other difficult-to-get-to places. The Dome has a separate speaker system for the outside.

Choose Your Sport of Choice

The Dome has the basic bottom surface base of asphalt that is topped with 3/8-inch of Rubaturf. Since it holds a variety of events, the Carrier Dome has surfaces to accommodate each and every one. For lacrosse, soccer and football, the entire arena floor is covered with a 1 1/4 inch carpet of Astro Turf that was recently replaced in 1994. It is not an easy project putting this turf together - it is made up of 26 rolls that are each 15 feet wide and 215 long to cover the floor that is 215 feet wide and 405 feet long. To make the job a little easier, the Dome gets help of laying the turf (that is held together by zippers) from a special machine known as a "Grasshopper". Let's not forget Syracuse University's pride-and-joy - their basketball team. For these events, the Dome sports a 60 foot by 100 foot hardwood basketball floor used for SU home games. It is put together in the west end-zone by 225 interlocking sections.

A Birdseye View

The Carrier Dome brings "filling the house" to a whole new level. The seating in the Dome is made up of approximately 48,700 aluminum bleacher seats, 684 theater seats (there are 18 in each of the Dome's 38 private box suites) and about 195 seats for the media in the Press Box found on the south side of the second level. The Dome seats on average of 49,550 sport lovers for a typical sold-out Syracuse University football game. Wheelchairs are welcomed with open arms due to the north and south bleacher stands come with platforms for patrons in wheelchairs who want to enjoy both football and basketball. There is also the entire east end-zone at the lower level concourse that is wheelchair accessible.

Say It In Lights

The Carrier Dome has a Daktronics, Inc. scoreboard system that has taken the place of the original Fairfield scoreboard in 1994. This becomes the center of attention when it displays not only the current game-in-progress, but also shows a combination of statistics, player photos, out-of-town scores and other graphic animations. This focal points measures 13 feet high and 46 feet wide, and rests on the west end-zone's wall. It contains a whopping 28,160 light bulbs (80 high and 352 across). As to be expected, there are 3 more repeater boards each 3 feet high and 32 feet wide that are on the second and third levels (2 at the northwest and southwest 20-yard line and one in the east end-zone).

That's All Folks

Now that you've got all the stats about the Carrier Dome, hopefully it can create a somewhat accurate figure of what this amazing building would look like in person. It truly is breathtaking and can put anybody in the state of awe.


  • Personal Knowledge