CNYCentral has learned tonight just how close Central New York was to a major development project that would have included a new state of the art major sports arena. Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said Syracuse University had informally agreed to a 30 year lease in what would have been a new home for the Syracuse University Orange football and basketball teams.
The university would have paid a private operator of the arena some $5.4 million per year in rent over the 30 years. The operator would run the arena after investing some $100 million in the construction. Onondaga County would have also made a contribution of several million dollars.
Mahoney said Governor Andrew Cuomo was willing to invest $200 million in state dollars because of the planned extensive redevelopment of the area where Kennedy Square apartments once stood. Several blocks of land between Fayette Street and Erie Boulevard sit vacant.
The County Executive said the arena project was modeled around the Verizon Center in Washington DC which also was built in a neighborhood that used to be considered one of the worst in the District.
Mahoney acknowledged Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has every right to set the course for what gets built within the city limits. However, project discussions which had begun in June were accelerating with the hope that Governor Cuomo could announce the new stadium project in his budget address this past Tuesday.
As for the Carrier Dome, if this plan had passed as conceived the Dome would have been torn down to make way for new academic space on campus. Chancellor Kent Syverud had been involved in discussions about the new arena since he arrived in town about two months ago.