Analyzing Possible Sites For UConn-Syracuse

Syracuse and UConn could play at a neutral site this year. I look at some of the best options and which ones I think are the most likely.

Former Big East members UConn and Syracuse will play at a site to be determined this year
Source: Frank Ordonez/Syracuse Post-Standard

Syracuse and UConn will renew their rivalry this year, but surprisingly, the site is to be determined. Luckily, several sites make sense for hosting the matchup, with some being more likely than others.

Highmark Stadium, Buffalo, New York

This site is the least likely due to its considerable distance from UConn's campus and limited college football history. Highmark’s proximity to Syracuse's campus gives it some merit in hosting UConn-Syracuse.

Highmark Stadium last hosted a college football game in 2013 when 26,226 fans watched Bowling Green beat Buffaulo for the MAC East Championship.

Highmark Stadium could draw a solid contingent of Syracuse fans, with Buffalo being under three hours' driving distance from Syracuse. UConn fans may struggle traveling to Buffalo since it is a six-hour drive. Furthermore, the time of the year the game occurs will sway attendance heavily. Syracuse fans accustomed to the cozy, climate-controlled environment of the Carrier (now JMA Wireless) Dome will not want to travel to the outdoor home of the Buffalo Bills in late November.

The Orange have some history at Highmark, playing two games there in 1979 while they waited for the completion of the Carrier Dome. 7,729 saw Syracuse beat Miami and 10,004 fans saw the Orange beat Washington State at what was then known as Rich Stadium.

Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA

Moving the game to Gillette makes it more of a UConn home game. Hartford is less than two hours away from Gillette Stadium, while Syracuse is around five hours from the home of the Patriots.

Since UConn does not play Boston College this year, a game at Gillette would be their only chance in front of Boston area fans. Syracuse plays Boston College on the road this season, making a second game in Eastern Massachusetts unattractive to the Orange. Neither school has played a game at Gillette Stadium before.

Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY

“The House That Derek Jeter Built” is the most attractive option, but Syracuse’s recent game at Yankee Stadium is the main downside. Syracuse played Pitt in front of a crowd of 17,101 in a game meant to celebrate the 100th anniversary of old Yankee Stadium’s first football game.

Like a game at Gillette Stadium, UConn fans would likely be more eager to play a game at Yankee Stadium than Syracuse fans. The Huskies last played at Yankee Stadium in 2014, when 27,453 fans watched them play Army. New York City is a fertile recruiting and media ground for both schools. However, MetLife Stadium would be the ideal venue in the New York City metro for both teams.

Fenway Park: Boston, MA

Fenway Park is the better Northeast ballpark option for both schools. While it would be a UConn home game like Gillette, both schools are long overdue for a Fenway Park appearance. UConn’s last appearance at Fenway was their 2017 game against Boston College. Syracuse has never appeared at Ted Williams’ old stomping grounds.

The reasons stated in the argument against holding the game at Gillette Stadium persist here. Yet, Syracuse would likely be more willing to play at one of American sports’ most revered venues instead of a sterile NFL stadium.

MetLife Stadium: East Rutherford, NJ

The epicenter of New Jersey professional football is the most sensible venue for the Orange and Huskies to play at. Syracuse has an extensive history at MetLife. MetLife has hosted the Orange four times, averaging fans per game.

UConn has not only never appeared at MetLife Stadium or its predecessor, Giants Stadium. If both schools want to use this game as a Big Apple showcase, MetLife is the most seamless option. MetLife has significantly fewer logistical hurdles than Yankee Stadium.

One concern with MetLife is its size. The atmosphere could feel dull should both teams fail to fill even half the stadium. However, any chance to play in front of alumni and recruits in the country’s largest media market is enough to overlook the issues with the fan environment.

If the game is early in the season, MetLife Stadium will be the only option in the New York City metro.

Plenty of options exist for a Syracuse-UConn neutral site game. The location will depend on how much of a home field advantage both parties will want to give up. With this in mind, a venue in the New York City metro looks like the most logical option.