Syracuse Says 36 Years Is Enough on Permanent Stadium Name Deal

  • Carrier Corp. paid $2.75 million for naming rights in 1980
  • Stadium to replace roof as part of $255 million campus upgrade

Syracuse University is asking for more money from Carrier Corp. in order to keep the heating-and-cooling company’s name on the domed stadium in central New York.

The current deal with Carrier is one of the sweetest in sports. Before the 50,000-seat stadium opened in 1980, Mel Holm, Carrier’s chief executive officer at the time, gave $2.75 million to the university in exchange for naming rights in perpetuity. As the value of those rights has soared in the ensuing decades, Syracuse has been left out in the cold.

“Negotiations are happening now,” said Pete Sala, SU’s chief facilities officer. “We asked Carrier to be a player.”

He said the discussions are being led by Foley & Lardner partner Irwin Raij, who represents Syracuse on sports facility development matters, including stadium finance and project management. Raij declined to comment.

Carrier spokeswoman Michelle Caldwell didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on the dome, which is scheduled to be renovated as part of a $255 million campus upgrade. The school’s football, basketball and lacrosse teams play in the stadium.

Syracuse could get at least $2 million a year in a new naming-rights deal, said Jeff Knapple, chief executive officer of Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, which advises teams and colleges on stadium projects. The Texas Dow Employees Credit Union in 2014 paid the University of Houston $15 million to name TDECU Stadium through 2024, earning more for the school in two years than Syracuse has made in the past 36.

If Syracuse and Carrier can’t reach an agreement, the university could attempt to buy out the original contract. The school could also go to court to make the argument that the original deal should be scrapped, because when the dome is renovated, it will be radically different from the venue Holm sponsored.

Syracuse earlier this year said renovations to the Carrier Dome would include a new $105 million roof made from the same material used in the Minnesota Vikings stadium and in the Water Cube built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The school hasn’t said how the project will be funded.

The white-topped dome was opened the year after Syracuse became a founding member of the Big East Conference, and the television exposure helped make it one of college sports’ most iconic facilities. Syracuse now plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Carrier is a unit of Farmington, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp.

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