Syracuse University’s iconic Carrier Dome is no more.
The school has reached a settlement with Carrier Global Corp. to end the company’s perpetual naming rights deal for the football and basketball venue, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. Local technology company JMA Wireless will take over the naming rights, with an announcement expected in the coming weeks, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the details are private.
Thus ends one of the longest running and most sponsor-friendly naming rights agreements in sports history. Carrier gave the school a $2.75 million gift back in 1979 during construction of the building, securing naming rights for the lifetime of the venue. Forty-three years later, the Carrier Dome is among the most recognizable buildings in college basketball and college football.
Details of the settlement between the school and Carrier (NYSE: CARR) weren’t provided. It’s also unclear how much JMA agreed to pay moving forward. The dome would likely command upwards of $3.25 million per year on the open market, according to APEX Marketing Group, which does naming rights consulting. That number could vary depending on how deal is structured, and whether or not the name is part of a larger wireless service deal.
Representatives for the university, Carrier, and JMA, which is based outside Syracuse, didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
The Carrier Dome is well-known to college sports fans for its arched white ceiling, echoing acoustics and cavernous environment for basketball games. It has been the setting for a number of NCAA attendance records, including the largest on-campus crowd ever for a college basketball game—35,642, in 2019.
The facility cost $26.85 million to build back in 1979, including the $2.75 million gift from Carrier, which entitled the local HVAC manufacturer to naming rights to the building in perpetuity. Syracuse was originally an early mover in securing a name partnership for an on-campus arena (albeit one structured more like a grant than a sponsorship deal). But as time has moved on and naming rights deals for college venues have become big revenue opportunities, the Carrier partnership has begun to look more like a financial handcuff for the school.
In 2018, Syracuse announced a $118 million investment to renovate the building, part of a wider $255 million campus transformation plan, which included a new roof, better WiFi, and (ironically) the building’s first air conditioning system. During that construction, the school stopped using the word Carrier in its media guides and promotional materials, leading to increased tension between the two sides. There were internal discussions at one point, according to people familiar with the talks, that the school could argue that renovations were enough to consider the finished product a new building, thus freeing it from the “lifetime” deal with Carrier.
Carrier, now headquartered in Florida, could still have advertising at the building moving forward, one of the people said.
JMA specializes in wireless technology, including software that helps its clients in the transition to 5G. The company powers wireless systems in a number of sports venues around the country, including SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
The Carrier Dome has hosted a number of men’s NCAA tournament regionals, plus concerts, touring shows, and NBA and NFL exhibition games. It is also home to the school’s lacrosse teams.