by Paul Peck, Buffalo Sports Page
The Carrier Dome at Syracuse University is one of the coolest places to see a basketball game.
(Yes I’m biased as an SU grad)
It’s just 2:30 hours down the Thruway.
Syracuse and UB are New York State’s two major Division One athletic programs.
So why is this the first time in 16 years that the Bulls are playing the Orange in the Dome?
Why can’t this happen every year, to the delight of WNY & CNY basketball fans?
Watching this game made me realize how crazy it is that these two upstate neighbors don’t play on a more regular basis, in basketball or football. I get it. Syracuse is in the ACC, UB in the MAC. Not exactly the same neighborhood of college athletics. But New York State is not in any really college sports neighborhood, so wouldn’t it benefit both schools to work together to grow college sports in a mostly pro sports region?
I believe it would.
I am told that Syracuse has always been somewhat hesitant to even talk to UB about scheduling. Basically, they don’t have to. Plus, there is a bit of a rivalry about “New York’s College Team.” That motto adorns the walls of the Carrier Dome. It even sits on an outfield wall at Yankee Stadium. Both schools have large numbers of alums in NYC. Under former UB AD Danny White, the Bulls tried to make a similar claim.
Maybe some recent developments will change this. Syracuse Athletic Director John Wildhack is a Buffalo native, from Kenmore. Syracuse Executive Director Bob Arkeilpane was the Bulls AD from 1998-2003. Both understand WNY sports, and know how much Syracuse playing UB will help grow the sports in Buffalo.
It will be harder to make this happen in football. But Syracuse does seem to play a Mid American Conference school every year. Why not UB instead of Central Michigan? The Bulls and the Orange haven’t played football since 2007. That’s too long.
But in basketball, this should be a yearly rivalry. Maybe it could even lead to an occasional Syracuse trip the other way to play at the Key Bank Center.
It was fun and exciting to watch the Bulls and the Orange play in the Carrier Dome. The Bulls even made it a game, leading with three minutes to go before losing 81-74. There was a good group of a few hundred Bulls fans that made the trip, plus a group of CNY alums. They got a kick out of seeing their Blue & White play in a Mecca of college hoops.
This should happen every year. College fans in both cities will be the winners.