ID Signsystems competes rebranding signage in SU dome

ID Signsystems of Rochester installed the signage for rebranding of the Syracuse University Dome
ID Signsystems of Rochester installed the signage for rebranding of the Syracuse University Dome. (Photo provided)

A Rochester firm specializing in a wide variety of signage has finished its work on the rebranding of the Carrier Dome to JMA Wireless Dome.

ID Signsystems installed the JMA branding in prominent viewing areas:

  • Aluminum channel letters, spanning 12 feet by 19 feet, anchored on the west wall;
  • Matching JMA logos measuring more than 13 feet on each side of the four-side suspended scoreboard;
  • A 60-foot square digitally printed scrim suspended across the base of the scoreboard.

Located on the campus of Syracuse University, the dome has been home to Orange football, basketball and other sports since 1980. JMA Wireless of Syracuse became the new title sponsor in May.

ID Signsystems was given the signage contract in July and completed the work Wednesday. Supply chain issues and the availability to work when the dome was not in use and sourcing from three manufacturers for the scrim were among the challenges encountered, the company said.

“The JMA Dome project demonstrates our ability to produce a technically-complicated project in a very short period of time in a complex installation environment,” Paul Dudley, president of the company, said in a news release. “Our team management through multiple channels was exemplary. The final installation was conducted through nights and weekends to ensure we met and exceeded our client’s due date and quality expectations.”

The firm’s lighted signs and wayfinding signage is prevalent in the Rochester area, include at University of Rochester Medical Center facilities, Innovation Square, the Empire State Trail, the Mercantile on Main and Rochester Institute of Technology’s Gene Polisseni Center and Global Cybersecurity Institute.

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Opining on Syracuse football, Bills’ bungling of rape investigation       

Victory-famished sports fans often plummet from feeling angry to apathetic. And that can be problematic because at least angry fans care enough to remain financially and emotionally invested in their teams. They still attend games, still buy merchandise and concessions, still root, root, root for the ol’ home team. Apathetic fans just stop going. Period. They opt to spend their cash, time and emotions elsewhere.

I think apathetic is where many Syracuse University football fans are at this point, and I can’t say as I blame them because the Orange men have mustered just one winning season in the past eight years and just four in the past 17 years. That ignominious stretch has seen them suffer through three 10-loss seasons and two nine-loss seasons. Other than their 10-win campaign and No. 15th final ranking four years ago, they’ve been nationally irrelevant. And irrelevant in their own backyard for that matter.

Syracuse kicks off its 2022 schedule Saturday night against Louisville at the newly named (it’s going to take time getting used to writing this) JMA Wireless Dome. With a ledger featuring games against two top-five opponents and four top-20 foes, it’s not exactly man-bites-dog news that the Vegas oddsmakers are forecasting another losing record.

That would make six losing seasons in seven tries for Coach Dino Babers – more than enough to call for his firing. But, in reality, Babers appears safe despite his abysmal 29-43 record because, according to reports from respected ESPN college football insider Pete Thamel, the affable Babers has a $10-million buyout clause after this season. Although that’s pocket change to football factories like Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Penn State and Ohio State, it’s significant money for a medium-sized private university like Syracuse that historically doesn’t buy out coaches’ contracts. So, unless Babers turns in another 1-10 season like he did in 2020, he probably remains.

Winning is the only remedy that can rouse apathetic Orange fans to care enough to plant their fannies back on those uncomfortable aluminum bench seats in the Dome. And, if you look really hard, you’ll find reasons to believe that maybe this Syracuse team can defy the odds.

Adding respected offensive coordinator Robert Anae, quarterbacks coach Jason Beck, and special teams coach Bob Ligashesky vastly upgraded Babers’ staff. Anae and Beck have a successful track record developing dual-threat quarterbacks. Ligashesky coached 16 years in the NFL and should improve a disorganized special teams unit that cost SU several games in recent years.

Syracuse returns 17 starters. Most prominent among them is Sean Tucker, who is coming off a single-season school rushing record and may be the best running back in America. The Orange features an experienced, albeit occasionally brittle offensive line, and NFL prospects in the linebacking corps and secondary.

As is usually the case, the team’s fortunes will come down to quarterback. Garrett Shrader showed his athleticism and grit last year, rushing for 781 yards and 14 touchdowns. At 6-foot-4, 228 pounds, with speed to burn, he is a home run running threat every play. Unfortunately, Shrader’s throwing (he completed only 52.6 percent of his passes) sank SU last fall, as opponents bunched defenders close to the line-of-scrimmage to stop the run because they didn’t respect the junior QB’s arm. If Anae and Beck can turn Shrader into an effective passer, Syracuse will have a chance to be dynamic offensively, and pull off some upsets. Should Shrader falter early in the season, look for Babers to switch to transfer Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, who was a four-star recruit in high school.

We’ll see if the apathetic can be coaxed into caring again. For now, though, many Orange fans remain in a show-me state. And we’re not talking Missouri.


Much has happened since the story broke last Thursday that Buffalo Bills  punter Matt Araiza and two of his former San Diego State football teammates were being sued for allegedly gang-raping a then-17-year-old girl last October. The disturbing story was news to most, but not to the Bills, who had been notified by the girl’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, in late July. Bills assistant general counsel Kathryn D’Angelo reportedly chatted at length on the phone with “Jane Doe’s” lawyer. The team, then, according to Bills general manager Brandon Beane conducted a “thorough examination,” but questions have arisen about just how “thorough” it truly was. Beane, head coach Sean McDermott and D’Angelo immediately spoke to Araiza, who denied the charges. The Bills braintrust did not follow up with Gilleon and, incredibly, did not request to interview the victim. Instead, they took the word of a 22-year-old rookie who hadn’t been forthcoming about the matter during pre-draft interviews with the team.

Despite warnings of the impending civil suit, the Bills cut veteran Matt Haack and named Araiza the starting punter. Making matters worse, McDermott went on a national podcast and said Araiza was a “great kid.”

It was only after widespread public backlash by angry Bills fans that the team decided to cut Araiza last Saturday. Meanwhile, the San Diego County district attorney continues its criminal investigation. Araiza’s attorney and parents have described the civil suit as a “money grab.” And the victim recently did an interview with CBS News recounting what transpired that harrowing night eleven months ago.

After being backed into a corner, the Bills did the right thing in releasing Araiza. Yes, this was a difficult, highly sensitive matter, and, yes, it’s important to follow due process. In a court of law, you are innocent until proven guilty and Araiza and his two teammates will wind up having their say in a hall of justice if this goes to trial.

In the meantime, I suspect Beane, McDermott and Bills’ ownership will conduct a thorough examination of how they botched this situation so something similar doesn’t happen again.

Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.

A Buffalo Bills playoff victory and other wishes for 2020

scottteaser-215x160The year was 1995. Gas cost a tad more than a buck a gallon. “Toy Story” made a boffo cinematic debut. Bill Clinton occupied the White House. A bomb set off by suburban Buffalo native Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in Oklahoma City. eBay went live for the first time. O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double-murder. The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland. Jerry Garcia, Mickey Mantle and Jonas Salk died. And the Buffalo Bills defeated the Miami Dolphins, 37-22, in a wildcard playoff game that was significant for two reasons–it marked the last time the Bills won in the post-season and the last time Hall of Fame coach Don Shula patrolled an NFL sideline.

That game really was the last hurrah of the Bills Super Bowl era. Fueled by Thurman Thomas’ 158-yard rushing performance, Buffalo led 27-0 early in the fourth quarter at then Rich Stadium. Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino staged a furious comeback, finishing with 33 completions in 64 attempts for 422 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, but it was too little, too late.

The next week, for all intents and purposes, the Bills’ glory years came to an ignominious end. With all-time sack leader Bruce Smith unable to play because of a 104-degree fever, an aged Buffalo team was crushed, 40-21, by the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium. The next season, Jim Kelly’s career would conclude with him being carted off the field in a wildcard loss to Jacksonville, and the year after that, Marv Levy would coach his last game, and Smith, Thomas and Andre Reed would suit up for Buffalo a final time.

So, this is the next famine the Bills need to address as they travel this road back to respectability. They need to win a playoff game this weekend. To put things into perspective, Buffalo has not won a post-season game in 23-year-old Josh Allen’s lifetime. (The Bills quarterback was born roughly five months after that victory against the Dolphins.)

In addition to a Bills playoff victory in 2020, I would like to see our local professional and college teams make the playoffs and win championships–and that includes the Buffalo Sabres, who haven’t competed in a post-season since 2011. Here are a few other things I hope happen in the world of sports in the coming year:

  • Steve Tasker earns induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Gunners who race down the field to make field-position altering tackles have been devalued in this era of diminishing kickoff returns, but they were a huge weapon in the 1980s and ‘90s, and no one was better at it than Tasker. Late Bills special teams coach Bruce DeHaven once showed me a highlight tape of Tasker making plays that determined the outcome of a dozen games. Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick said the guy they worried about most during those Bills glory years was Tasker. He was a game-changer, the best there ever was at what he did, and I think that merits a bust in Canton, Ohio.
  • A postseason appearance by the Los Angeles Angels so America can finally appreciate the greatness of Mike Trout. It’s impossible to imagine Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan or Tom Brady toiling in anonymity. Well, that’s what is happening right now with Trout. Perhaps with the addition of manager Joe Maddon and third baseman Anthony Rendon, the Angels finally will make the playoffs, and Trout will have a national television stage on which to shine.
  • The hiring of Jeff Van Gundy to coach the New York Knicks again. I sensed from talking to Van Gundy during an October visit to Nazareth College, his alma mater, that the fire to coach still burns. His work as an analyst has kept him plugged in to the NBA. He probably wouldn’t be able to replicate the success he enjoyed in his first go-around as Knicks coach, which featured six playoff appearances, including one trip to the NBA Finals, in six full seasons. But he eventually would turn them into winners. Of course, this would only work if dysfunctional owner James Dolan gave him complete control. Admittedly that’s a big if.
  • More Olympic gold medals for Simone Biles. She’s already established herself as the greatest gymnast of all-time. And she may have a chance to challenge swimmer Michael Phelps as greatest Olympian of all-time. Beyond that, she has used her celebrity to bring about positive change and become an advocate for victims of sexual abuse in sports and beyond.
  • More competitive tournaments for Tiger Woods. Yeah, I know he’s a polarizing figure, but he moves the needle, commands our interest, makes golf relevant. He doesn’t necessarily have to win any more majors. Just needs to be in the hunt on Sundays.
  • An amicable agreement between major and minor league baseball that would prevent the elimination of 40 minor league franchises, including ones in Batavia, Auburn and Binghamton. This contraction threat is a bad idea. Sure, it might save money in the short run, but will hurt in the long-run because minor-league teams in small markets introduce young people to the game and help build lifelong relationships.
  • A bounce-back by Syracuse University’s football and basketball programs. Dino Babers needs to show that his team’s 10-3 record in 2018 was not a fluke, and Jim Boeheim needs to show that he still has it after 44 years as head hoops coach.
  • A 28th World Series title by the New York Yankees. I know I’m showing my bias here, but I’ve been following the team since 1961, so old habits die hard. After paying a king’s ransom to sign pitcher Garrit Cole, there’s no room for excuses. Anything shy of a title will be considered a failure.

Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.        

Nazareth’s MLK talk focuses on ‘The Other America’

A philosophy professor from Syracuse University will deliver a talk on “The Other America” at Nazareth College for its annual commemoration of Martin Luther King Day.

The talk by Laurence Thomas is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at the college’s Callahan Theater in the Arts Center. The event will also feature performances by students who have won Nazareth’s 2019 MLK Visual and Performing Arts Awards. The event is open to the public.

The title of Thomas’ speech comes from one King delivered in 1967 at Stanford University in which he talked about race, poverty and economic justice. Thomas is the author of “Vessels of Evil, American Slavery and the Holocaust.”

Thomas also will deliver the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, also open to the public, titled “The Moral Majesty of Genuine Trust,” at 6:30 p.m. on that same day. The evening lecture will take place in the college’s Linehan Chapel in the Golisano Academic Center.

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Rochester’s Pettinella gives $2M to Syracuse University

  Rochester businessman Edward Pettinella has endowed a second professorship at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, where he earned a graduate degree in 1976.

Pettinella, the former president, CEO and director of Home Properties, gave $2 million to SU to create an endowed assistant or associate professorship in business. Five years ago he funded a professorship in finance.

Edward Pettinella
Edward Pettinella

“We are extremely fortunate to have friends and supporters like Ed who understand that faculty are the heart of a university and how the intellectual capital of the faculty is the foundation for everything we do,” said Whitman Dean Gene Anderson. The new professorship will help the school attract and keep world-class junior faculty, according to a statement from SU.

“We have high expectations for Whitman and our students,” said Pettinella, who is a member of the SU board of trustees. “To bring those expectations to fruition, we need gifted and inspired faculty members—both veteran instructors who are highly accomplished and junior professors who bring the promise of new perspectives and approaches.”

In his job at Home Properties, Pettinella ran a $7.6 billion real estate investment trust. The company was purchased by Lone Star Funds in 2015. He currently serves on the board of Manning & Napier, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and the SUNY Geneseo Foundation.

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Best college buys include University of Rochester

Several local and regional colleges have made the Kiplinger’s list of 2018 Best College Values.

University of Rochester ranked the highest of local schools, at 30th out of 100 private schools and 94th out of 300 schools overall.

Among public schools, the State University College at Geneseo ranked 53rd of 100. Geneseo also came in at 120 on the full list of 300 schools.

The combined list of 300 schools—100 each private, public and liberal arts institutions—were picked from more than 1,200. Selection criteria included cost and quality measures such as tuition price, admission rates, four-year graduation rates, retention, faculty-to-student ratio, average aid levels and average student debt.

The list will be published in the Jan. 9 edition of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and is available now online.

Other results: Rochester Institute of Technology was 91st on the private list, 285th on the combined list.

St. John Fisher College was 99th on the private list, 297th on the combined list.

State University of New York at Buffalo ranked 54th on the public list and 235th on the combined list, while Syracuse University ranked 77th on the private list and 255th on the combined list. Cornell University did quite well, as did most Ivy League schools, ranking 30th on the overall list and 12th on the private list.

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UR, RIT business schools make Businessweek list

The business schools of two local universities – and three others in Central and Western New York – have made the Bloomberg Businessweek list of the best business schools in the country.

The list of the top 85 programs offering full-time masters of business administration programs includes University of Rochester’s Simon Business School  (No. 33), and Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business (No. 79).

Raters considered interviews with thousands of students, alumni and employers, as well as job placement percentages and compensation.

Other schools in the region on the list are Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business (No. 13), State University of New York at Buffalo’s School of Management (No. 46) and Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management (No. 64).

Harvard University was ranked first for the third year in a row. President Donald J. Trump’s alma mater, Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, jumped four spots from 2016 to take second place.

RIT’s Saunders College appeared on the list for the first time.