The Syracuse University football team announced that it will play “home games” in the coming decade at the new stadium being built in New Jersey for the NFL’s Giants.
As an alum who might have driven the 2 1/2 hours to see USC and Notre Dame, all I have to say is: What the heck?
I understand at 82,500, the new stadium’s capacity far exceeds that of the 50,000-seat Carrier Dome. And I get that any exposure in the media mecca of New York City is good, especially for an ailing program.
But there’s something to be said for fan service. My wife and I went to the Carrier Dome to see the Orange beat Notre Dame 38-12 in 2003 (we were rooting for different sides). Neither team went to a bowl that season, but the Dome was as raucous as I’d ever seen it – and I attended the school during the McNabb Years. The fans got into that game like none I’d ever seen at ANY football game, and the Dome proved the perfect host for the Fighting Irish.
Sure, there are a fair number of alumni in the NYC area, and Syracuse locals can easily make the four-hour drive to Jersey. But playing there will take away what semblance of a home-field advantage SU has left (and likely bring in more Golden Domer supporters; NYC is bing enough to have plenty of ND alums, after all). Fans who have supported the team through the bleak stretch of the past five years deserve to see the marquee names in central New York.
And they don’t get much more marquee than USC, which has never played in the Carrier Dome. So once SU finally signs a home-and-home series with the Trojans, they up and move the game. Great.
OK, I could just drive the 6/12 hours to Jersey if I really wanted to. But that’s not the point. As drab as the Carrier Dome may be, it’s home for the Orange program. A plethora of fans like myself have plenty of good memories in that building, and it would only be fair to have the big draws come to Syracuse.
But, as has been the case for years now in big-time sports, the dollar trumps the fan every time.