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From Carrier to JMA Wireless

The JMA Wireless Dome shining bright on SU's campus
The JMA Wireless Dome shining bright on SU's campus

When Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud officially introduced the JMA Wireless Dome back in May, he ushered in a new era of Syracuse Athletics. But for many, The Dome’s former name, the Carrier Dome, will always be synonymous with its legacy. Legendary Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson understands how the Carrier Dome and SU athletics will forever be intertwined.

“It was a special place. Being 22 years old and walking out on that field with 50,000 people there, right on top of you. And they’re your people. It’s a special feeling,” McPherson said. “When I hear the name Carrier Dome, I think about the early days when it was a unique place to play in college football.”

Syracuse historian Rick Burton shares similar sentiments. A co-author of the book “Forever Orange: The Story of Syracuse University”, Burton understands the role that the Carrier Dome played in putting Syracuse on the map.

“More often than not, on cold snowy nights, there were national TV cameras in Syracuse, New York, broadcasting live from the Carrier Dome,” Burton said. “I think people all over America suddenly realized that Syracuse was a big-time college athletics powerhouse.”

For people like Burton, the Carrier Dome goes hand-in-hand with some of the greatest moments in ‘Cuse athletics history.

“Great buildings deliver great games. People will look back and point to big games that Coach Boeheim coached or that Don McPherson won with his arm,” Burton said. “They’ll have these really fond memories if they're alive, or they’ll be in books.”

There are few people associated with Syracuse football as much as Don McPherson. Still, he feels that the name change of The Dome can be compared to when SU left the Big East - doing away with the old, and bringing in the new.

“I do think this signals that the King is dead, long live the King,” McPherson said when describing the name change in conjunction with the end of the Big East days. “I think it does signify the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.”

So although there is a serious sentimental value the Carrier Dome provided to the Central New York community, all good things must come to an end. Dr. Patrick Walsh is a sport marketing professor in SU’s Falk College. The name change didn’t surprise him one bit.

“I think it was a long time coming,” Walsh described. “The Carrier deal was very unique at the time. The University was missing out on potential revenue.”

Walsh gives both SU and JMA Wireless credit for fostering a relationship where the two fit each other's needs.

“This one in particular is a good representation of how some naming rights deals can work for both parties,” Walsh exclaimed. “The local company in JMA Wireless gets to come in and support something that is very important to the community, but also their product and what they do as a business is needed in The Dome.”

But what about the man in charge, SU Athletic Director John Wildhack? He recognizes the potential that JMA and Syracuse Athletics have to grow together. Wildhack thinks the sky's the limit.

“The Dome is the most unique facility in college sports. One of the focuses we’ve had is what we can do in terms of technology,” Wildhack said. “JMA is just going to advance that. Once their proprietary 5G technology is in there, we will be the most sophisticated college venue in the country once that’s done.”

Here’s the bottom line. Regardless of what it is called, it’s The Dome. Its halls have been filled with memories since its inception in 1980, and will continue to be for decades into the future.