Pat Campbell, managing director of the Carrier Dome, wasn't easy to track down last spring and summer. For months, barricades surrounded the Dome, security was a high priority, and Campbell's timealways at a premiumwas in greater demand than ever. Why all the commotion? Campbell and his staff were caught up in a race against the clock as construction crews installed and inflated the new Dome roof.
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Pat Campbell, managing director of the Carrier Dome, rarely has a quiet moment. When he's not coordinating operations during an SU sports event at the Dome, he's usually planning concerts or other activities for the facility.
The enormity of the project compounded Campbell's responsibilities overseeing general operations at the Dome, and booking events. But Campbell and the 25 full-time staff members he supervises did their best to keep the roof replacement in perspective. "The project certainly added to our usual workload," he says. "I looked at it as one very long event."
Events are the cornerstones of Campbell's annual schedule, and the Syracuse University Athletics Department is the source for most of them. "Syracuse University football, basketball, and lacrosse are the three major tenants at the Dome and they take priority," he says. "Everything else has to fit around those schedules. It's a juggling act."
It's also a routine Campbell knows well. He has been on the University staff since 1978, first working in internal audit, then as an assistant director and business manager for athletics. In 1986, Campbell was promoted to assistant director of the Dome, working under athletics director Jake Crouthamel. By the time Campbell assumed the role of managing director in 1991, he was tailor-made for the job. "I always have had a strong bond with the University," he says. "I grew up here and SU was the team to root for. I remember those last couple of seasons in Archbold Stadium. So the prospect of bringing a major-college domed sports facility to Syracuse was fantastic, and now to be part of its operation is a dream come true."
As a Syracuse native, Campbell understands the unique role the Carrier Dome plays in the community. Primarily, it's a campus sports facility. But because of its large seating capacity and strong presence on the Syracuse skyline, the Dome is an ambassador for the city as well, hosting some of the area's biggest concerts and professional entertainment events.
Campbell plans at least two concerts and several non-campus entertainment events each year. Successful negotiations are often a direct result of Campbell's knowledge of the local market. He says country-pop superstar Garth Brooks passed on playing the Carrier Dome for years, only to sell out two nights when he was finally booked in 1997.
SU will host the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship East Regional this March, and again in 2002. These are contracts the University pursued with fervor. "To be able to bring the East Regional here is a testament to the facility and to the staff's ability to stage an event of that size," Campbell says. "This indicates how important it is to have the Dome at SU, and it demonstrates how strong the support of the community is for an event like this. "
Concerts require the most coordination from Dome staff, but Campbell never takes the routine preparations of a home game for granted. "There are so many things to consider," he says. "For me the most hectic times are right before the gates open, and right before kickoff. There is more traffic in the concourses then than at any other time."
Campbell commends the efforts of Dome employees who are responsible for the smallest of details. "Compared to other facilities this size, we have a small staff that gets a heck of a lot done under some hectic conditions," he says. "From the ticket office to the various operations systems, it's a pretty huge operation. So, the less people notice what you do behind the scenes, the better things are working. That's a tribute to our staff."
For all the stress that comes with managing a facility that can hold nearly 50,000 fans, Campbell says he still relishes his role at the Carrier Dome. "I wouldn't want to be any place else. This is the icing on the cake," he says. "It's just a great situation."
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