The sports stadium expert advising Syracuse University in the recent debate over building a new stadium on Syracuse’s east side, says the future of a stadium for Syracuse sports is still under discussion. The urgency of the plan now is nowhere near what it was earlier this year, when a potential pot of state money could have become available.
Irwin Raij, of Foley and Lardner, the law firm SU hired as a consultant, says the stadium study conducted late last year was worth it for a couple of reasons.
“The move to the ACC is a fact that needs to be taken into consideration, I think the age of the dome is a fact that needs to be taken into consideration," Raij said. "But the dome is a great facility, and this is not what we call a mandatory action. This is looking to the future and what opportunities exist.”
Raij admitted there could have been more community engagement during the process late last year, but says the University had to take some action with the possibility of state money available to fund a new stadium.
“The university was approached to consider this, and the university was asked if this was an opportunity which is good for the university," Raij said. "And the university said this was important. When opportunities like this present themselves, you need to investigate them to see what real opportunity may exist. That’s all it is.”
The whole issue erupted earlier this year when there was a possibility of New York state footing much of the bill for a proposed retractable roof stadium near the former Kennedy Square Apartments on Syracuse’s east side.
It then lost steam when Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner refused to endorse it, concerned about the infrastructure costs to the city of such a stadium. Raij spoke to the mayor’s stadium task force about the process yesterday, and says even though the stadium plan fell through, SU is still looking at options of either replacing of rehabbing the Dome.
Ultimately, Raij says projects like this depend on government help.
“I think the state’s involvement is important, just as much as the county’s involvement," Raij said. "I think public sector support for something like this is key.”
Task force Chair Ben Walsh hopes the group can help as that discussion goes on.
"We have offered to be a conduit to the community as the university continues in their process," Walsh said. "Whether we can effectively represent everyone in the community, I’m not sure we can do that, but we can certainly help.”