Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Syracuse...The Windy City?

Wind issues? Inside the Carrier Dome? You bet, says University of Washington head football coach Tyrone Willingham, who plans a personal inspection of the Syracuse University football stadium and its doorways to check for wind exploitation potential.

During a news conference Monday in Seattle, Willingham expressed his concerns about the Carrier Dome, site of Friday's college football opener between the Huskies and Orange.
Willingham, while not accusing Syracuse of air-pressure trickery, he all but did by announcing his plans to play gumshoe with a wind gauge.

"I'll be all over the weather report trying to figure out which door they open in the Dome to create the wind," Willingham said. "You laugh. No, when you play at some other places, you know that's important."

Willingham pointed out there are differences playing in dome stadiums, such as the structure of the building and the lighting. Then he went a step further.

"The wind is different," Willingham said. "Some people would say, what wind? Always in a dome, you open certain doors. Things happen. It's a totally different environment."

The reaction from Syracuse officials was measured, if not amused.

"I can assure you that we cannot create a wind in the Dome that can affect the flight of a football," said Pat Campbell, senior associate director of athletics who oversees the Carrier Dome. "I doubt we could create a light breeze strong enough to get a kite airborne."

"Tyrone is an outstanding coach and person," said director of athletics Daryl Gross. "I am sure his concerns refer to dome stadiums in general. Our dome stadium staff is the most hospitable in the country and display impeccable integrity."

Willingham may be smarting from his last trip to the Carrier Dome. The former head coach at Notre Dame was here in 2003. The Orange defeated the Irish 38-12. Willingham also spent three years (1992-94) as an assistant coach for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, a team that plays its home games in the Metrodome. That stadium has an air-supported roof, just like the Carrier Dome.

Willingham took one other little jab at the Dome and its lack of air conditioning. "The only weird thing is it's sponsored by Carrier and you think they'd figure that one out," Willingham said.

I have personally attended games at the Metro Dome in Minnepolis which is similar since it has an inflatable roof and Willingham does have a point. When the doors open there is a definite, and strange difference in the air pressure inside the building, in fact it can feel like you are getting sucked in, or sucked out depending on which door you pass by.

Another item to be concerned about is the lighting. Domed stadiums with inflatable roofs have terrible lighting because lights can't be mounted from the ceiling like they were in the old Kingdome. For what it is worth, the Kingdome was a much better place to watch a game than the Metro Dome was even though both leave much to be desired. since the Carrier Dome is similar to the Metro Dome lighting will also be a concern.

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