If Syracuse Univerisity's home football opener against Miami of Ohio Saturday is as successful as its clever, nationally circulated promotional poster, Coach Frank Maloney and his orangemen will be pleased.
The University mailed out more than 3,500 eye-catching poster-invitations to almost every daily newspaper in the country and to all the radio and television stations in New York state, "requesting the honour of your presence on opening night at the Carrier Dome."
The "invitation" is 22 inches by 18 inches and features the starting 22 Syracuse players posing in tuxedos and orange helmets in the middle of the city's new $27 million domed stadium, named after a local air-conditioning tycoon and university trustee who donated nearly $3 million to the building's construction.
The Dome, the fifth largest such stadium in the nation, will officially be opened Saturday before the Orangemen's game in front of a capacity crowd of 50,000 -- most of whom will be wearing orange, of course.
The idea for the poster-invitation was suggested by Arnie Burdick, sports editor of the Syracuse Herald Journal. I'd seen the concept used a few years ago(by the Milwaukee Bucks) and gave it to the university about six months ago," said Burdick. "I was just trying to present something different."
"Everybody seems to be getting a pretty good chuckle out of the whole thing," said a university spokesman, "and we've received a lot of calls about it."
What Burdick didn't think of at the time was the problem in finding tuxedoes for 22 hulking players. A local formal wear shop finally was able to make the necessary arrangements.
The new stadium is already scheduled to be a centerpiece for next summer's National Sports Festival for the country's top athletes and will host the orangemen basketball games this winter, University officials are hoping the domed stadium, the only one of its kind in the Northeast, will attract more prominent college teams that had refused to play in Syracuse's former cramped, antiquated facilities.
The sight of the Orangemen starters in the black formal wear prompted one student to remark recently that it was the "only time in four years at the university that I've seen our players dress decently."