Tonawanda News — There’s something special about college towns.
Syracuse isn’t completely a college town, mind you. The Salt City has more than 100,000 residents and is the third-largest city in upstate New York, so its existence doesn’t solely rely upon the university synonymous with its name.
But the city and university are certainly intertwined.
Sporting events on campus -- especially basketball games, at least over the past decade -- are events unmatched anywhere on the sports scene -- including Bills games in Western New York. And with the University at Buffalo and Niagara University failing to grip Western New York’s attention, Buffalo will probably never experience a similar sensation.
When a city falls in love with its school squad, the entire municipality seems to pause once the game begins. That was the case in Syracuse during a recent men’s basketball contest. Mind you, the Orange are in the top 10 in the national rankings and were playing a school (Monmouth) they were expected to beat by 40 points. But the game still drew more than 22,000 people on a Saturday night in December during finals week on campus.
And they were boisterous, too. Even though the Orange play in the football-centric Carrier Dome, their basketball games can be among the loudest in the NCAA. The long-held belief on campus is the team benches face toward the empty space and away from the dome wall because seeing tens of thousands of people screaming at you from three tiers up was too fearsome for opposing coaches to want to deal with.
So even a casual basketball fan can have a good time at a game. And a trip to the Carrier Dome is recommended. But it’s not required to have a good time in Central New York.
Just a bounce pass away from the stadium is Destiny USA, the massive mall formerly known as the Carousel Center that’s actually expanded even more over the past couple years. The monstrous shopping center features four floors devoted solely to shopping -- with Orange gear available at many stores. There are upwards of a dozen restaurants, a food court, a movie theater and even an obstacle course, ensuring that one would never have to leave a mall to meet all of life’s needs and wants.