SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) — For forty years, it was the most recognizable landmark on the Syracuse skyline: The unique white-topped fabric covered sports stadium known as the Carrier Dome, or just The Dome.
The Carrier Dome was one of only a handful of sporting venues in the country that used a fabric roof supported by air pressure to protect the players and fans from the elements.
It is perhaps the last survivor. Long gone are the Pontiac Silverdome outside Detroit, Indianapolis’ RCA Dome, and Minneapolis’ Metrodome, which ended its run in spectacular fashion when a snowstorm collapsed its unique roof.
Construction began in April 1979, and contractors used 880 tons of steel and 30,000 cubic yards of concrete to create the building on the footprint of Archbold Stadium.
Covering the stands and the playing surface is 287,000 square feet of a Teflon coated fiberglass fabric called SHEERFILL I.
There is an inner liner called FABRASORB.
Tying it all together are fourteen steel cables that crisscross the stadium, holding together the 64 roof panels that add up to 6.5 acres, and suspending the Dome’s lighting and sound system.
It all weighs 220 tons and held up simply with air.
Sixteen fans located on the north and south sides of the Dome can move up to a million pounds of air per minute to create the air pressure needed to hold up the roof.
You don’t notice the higher air pressure inside, except in those times when everyone is exiting and someone pushes open a traditional door to get around the lines at the revolving doors. You can feel the higher-pressure air inside the Dome, pushing you out into the frigid Central New York air.
The Dome withstood Central New York winters time and again.
How? Heated air is pumped between the two roof layers to melt snowfall before it can accumulate. The melting snow runs down the roof to the concrete walls and is directed down through the dome into storm drains.
During the Blizzard of ’93, the amount of snow, and rate of snowfall were just too much for the warm air to deal with. Officials deliberately deflated the roof in a controlled manner to prevent a collapse and ripping of the fabric.
Melting snow poured from drains in the roof onto the floor of the building and pushed into drains.
The Dome first opened its revolving doors in September of 1980 to a packed house, but drew a few raised eyebrows from many who wondered how a building named for the company that invented modern air conditioning could be so hot.
Carrier paid almost $3 million to put its name on the building, but air conditioning was not part of the stadium’s almost $27 million price tag.
Air conditioning is not included in this first phase of renovations to the Carrier Dome.
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