Syracuse University hopes Carrier Dome renovation allows students to use it as study space, use Club 44 as a classroom

Syracuse, N.Y. — With large spaces at a premium because of the coronavirus pandemic, Syracuse Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer Pete Sala said Syracuse University is hoping that the school’s Carrier Dome renovation will allow students to utilize the space to study and even take classes.

Sala dropped the interesting study space idea during a teleconference with reporters to provide an update on the project as it heads into its final two weeks. Sala said the deadline for the project remains Sept. 18, eight days before the school is set to host Georgia Tech in football in the first competition in the new building. He noted that remains a tight deadline but expressed his belief the school would hit it.

This year’s portion of the renovation includes a new roof, center-hung scoreboard, videoboards, sound system and improvements to better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The school was also able to make some improvements to restrooms and concession areas, although the complete renovation of those spaces won’t be done until 2022.

Sala said he doesn’t expect to move forward with other major changes this fall because he wants to keep the space available for the school, which has never needed open spaces more desperately. Sala said he hopes to make the building available for students looking for a place to study outside their residence hall and to allow the school to use Club 44 as a classroom or meeting space.

“I’m being asked on a daily basis by all my colleagues at the university to open the Dome up for students to take online classes, have a place to go, have a place to spread out,” Sala said. ‘We’re being asked to hold some classes in here once the Dome opens up. We need this facility for our students now. We need to get this place open, not only for athletics, but our students. As soon as we can open the door, you’re going to see the doors open for many other things. Club 44 is going to be a classroom. We’re going to hold classes if we need to. We have a plan to have staffing at Gate N and P and G and H so students can come in during the day.”

Plans on how and whether that can happen remain in progress and have not been finalized.

As for the current renovation, Sala said the school has raised the center-hung scoreboard, is installing the last of the other video boards, has 95 percent of the lighting finished and 65 percent of the speakers done. He said the school has eight panels of the fabric portion of the roof installed and needs to average about three per day to hit the constriction deadline.

“The one thing I’m thinking about 24-7 is the fabric roof going into place,” Sala said. “It’s quite a process. The sections are very large. The team is working hard on that to bring that up to speed. … That fabric roof is going to make me or break me.”

Sala also noted that the air conditioning portion of the project is progressing and select portions of the building will be able to be cooled this fall. The addition will put an end to decades of jokes about how a building named after an air conditioning company lacks the amenity.

“We get beat up real bad about it,” Sala said. “It’s going to be nice. The changes we’ve made through the entire locker room complex and some of the private suites are going to be a huge improvement to the experience for the student-athletes and people who occupy the suites and the press box.”

The Carrier name has been a source of tension between Syracuse and Carrier because of an old naming rights agreement for the building that was made “in perpetuity.”

When asked if Carrier products would be used in the new air conditioning, Sala said the technology SU utilizes didn’t allow the company too many opportunities to be involved in the renovation. He said he did not know immediately which company’s individual units were installed in the suites.

“There are Carrier components at the steam plant,” Sala said. “We’re a chilled-water plant. I don’t know what you know about that but I’ll give you a quick lesson. We don’t have big units on campus. We don’t have those big cooling towers that you see with plumes of steam coming off. That system is down at the steam plant on the other side of Interstate 81. We chill water and bring it up the hill. That’s how we cool all our buildings that have air conditioning, 99 percent of them. There’s not a lot of opportunity for Carrier components. There are some components there that are Carrier products.

“There are some (new) air-handlers that are now in the suites. There was some opportunity there as well. … The small units in the private suites were replaced. To have it in front of me exactly what we put in there, I don’t have exactly the specs. I don’t have that level of detail.”

Contact Chris Carlson anytime: Email | Twitter | 315-412-1639

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