With Syracuse University pondering renovations to the Dome that may or may not involve a season of sports requiring relocation, it is interesting to consider the closest football venues and capacity. As someone who attended a “home game” off-campus (Ithaca against Boston College) while the Dome was being constructed, it is certainly possible for CNYers to attend such games. In any event, here are the capacities/distances of the nearby stadiums in New York:
- Ralph Wilson Stadium–the Buffalo Bills’ stadium in Orchard Park seats approximately 72,000 (71,870)–2.5 hours from Syracuse;
- Yankee Stadium–the New York Yankees’ baseball field in the Bronx converts to football and seats approximately 50,000–4.1 hours from Syracuse;
- Mitchie Stadium–Army’s stadium at West Point seats 40,000–3.5 hours from Syracuse
- UB Stadium–Buffalo’s stadium in Amherst, NY seats approximately 30,000 (29,031)–2.3 hours from Syracuse
- Schoellkopf Field–Cornell’s stadium in Ithaca, NY seats approximately 25,000 (25,597)–1.1 hours from Syracuse
Given Syracuse’s attendance issues, it would not be ridiculous to think that Schoellkopf field would be appropriate for home games involving an FCS opponent and an OOC opponent from the MAC.
Mitchie Field is seldom discussed because it is farther away than the Buffalo area, but it is closer to New York City, without actually having to get into the city. Playing Wake Forest or a lesser tier OOC school might be a good way to get exposure to Syracuse fans living in the corridor from Albany down.
There is no real reason to use UB’s stadium, other than just having no choice. For an extra 4,000 seats, doubling the distance from CNY negates same.
The pro stadiums have a lot of intrigue relative to big-name opponents. While some talk of Syracuse playing Pitt in Buffalo, that would essentially invite Panthers’ fans to attend. It is unclear why such a Pitt-friendly venue would be chosen. Better to play Pitt at Yankee Stadium and Boston College in Ralph Wilson stadium to allow Syracuse to have the maximum edge. Unless the pro stadiums will charge less for fans in the stadium, providing a financial incentive, these “home games” could quickly become “road games.”
One other option, of course, is to do a traveling season that includes exposure outside of New York and hits recruiting areas. If Jim Harbaugh can set up spring break practices in Florida, is there any reason why Syracuse could not play a “home game” in the Beltway to get some exposure there? Or even in the Carolinas? If New Jersey can be a site for a “home game” against Notre Dame, it is not much more of a leap to have a few home games through the ACC’s borders to get further exposure. Syracuse versus Wake Forest in Jacksonville in front of 15,000 fans might have more value than having 18,000 people show up at a New York stadium. Heck, given some attendance at Miami games, the Hurricanes would probably be jealous to see Syracuse-Wake Forest pull in 15,000 fans… ha ha ha.
The Confidential would do something like this for 2017 (which has a trip to LSU and a home game against CMU, as well as home games against Wake Forest, BC, Clemson, and Pitt):
- FCS opponent–Schoellkopf Field
- MAC opponent: Central Michigan–Schoellkopf Field
- Wake Forest: Florida venue–Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, or Miami
- BC: Schoellkopf Field (need to exorcise the demons of that last loss in Ithaca)
- Clemson–Ralph Wilson Stadium
- Pitt–Yankee Stadium
It probably makes sense to use the construction year to schedule a road OOC game with the home game to follow. For example, a road game against Army or U.B. in 2017, with a home game to follow in some other year would allow another New York game. Games against Temple (Pennsylvania), Ohio MAC schools (Ohio), Florida G5 schools (Florida), and other G5 schools could provide exposure elsewhere in exchange for a future home game in the newly renovated Dome.
In any event, there are lot of options. What would be your ideal blend of six home games if the Dome was shut down for a year for renovations?