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Official Review by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
One of the most successful teams in the National Lacrosse League is found in a predominantly minor league city. The Rochester Knighthawks have been building a lacrosse dynasty under the radar of the sports consciousness in North America.
The Knighthawks have been one of the stallwart teams in the NLL and are one of 2 teams that have remained in the same city since the forming of the league in 1995. During that time, the K-Hawks have taken home the Champion’s Cup as league champions six times, including three from 2012 through 2014. The team has shared ownership with the Rochester Americans of the AHL at times over their existence, but are currently owned by Curt Styres, President of Arrow Express Sports. The Knighthawks call the Blue Cross Arena at The War Memorial home. The arena is owned by the City of Rochester and located in downtown Rochester. The arena naming rights were purchased by Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance. The Knighthawks have generated a bit more revenue by selling the naming rights to the field to the law firm Connors & Ferris LLP. This makes the official home of the Knighthawks, Connors & Ferris Field at Blue Cross Arena at The War Memorial.
The National Lacrosse League claims to be “the fastest game on two feet” and offers a family friendly atmosphere where fans receive a great in-game experience at a family friendly price. The Knighthawks, being one of the most stable franchises in the league, continue to offer fans one of the best experiences in the league. Where other teams have come and gone, the Knighthawks have remained and continue to have a bright future in Western New York.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
In a league where the majority of teams play in major league arenas, the Knighthawks have a bit of an advantage when it comes to concessions. Although the availability of a huge variety of concessions may be a concern to a major league fan, the prices at Blue Cross Arena are better than the major league arenas. Also, those major league arenas rarely have all of their concession options available for the NLL fan that would be available for an NHL or NBA game.
That being said, the Blue Cross Arena does offer a strong variety of concessions at lacrosse games. Burgers, hot dogs, fries, chicken fingers, popcorn, and pretzels are all prevalent at the majority of concession stands. Local favorite, Salvatore's Pizza is offered at Blue Cross Arena and fans looking for a healthier option will be happy with the variety of options at the Wrap Stand.
Beverage options are dominated by Coca-Cola products that can be found in bottle or fountain format in the arena. Blue Cross Arena also offers a surprisingly strong variety of beers. Arena staples Budweiser, Bud Light and Labatt Blue can be found throughout the arena. If you are looking for some local Rochester beer, then you may want to try Genesse, Genny Light or microbrew Rohrbach.
Quality for food and beverage items in the arena are good. Try the Wrap Stand and a Rohrbach for something different.
The Rochester Knighthawks provide a strong atmosphere at Blue Cross Arena, aided by the excitement and speed of indoor lacrosse that can be found throughout the National Lacrosse League.
The Blue Cross Arena is a very old arena that has been in Rochester since the fifties. The city has made some very significant upgrades to the arena over the years to keep it up to date, the most significant of which was the building of the glassed in atrium on the north side of the building. The atrium has allowed natural light into an arena that was no-doubt dank and dark back in the day. Upon entering the atrium, you can't help but notice the huge Native American bronze statue as a salute to the Native American origins of the game of lacrosse. This is the most significant presence the Knighthawks have within the arena itself as most of the decor is central to the Rochester Americans of the AHL. Upon entering the concourse after scanning your ticket, fans are met by the Knightengales dance team passing out free programs. Just behind them is the main merchandise stand, which is a bit perplexing as the lower atrium features the closed Americans team store, which has no Knighthawks presence. The concourse also has other stands including a balloon animals stand. Live music can be heard throughout the concourse as the band plays in the upper atrium, where you will also find the Americans hall of fame. Inside the concourse you will see the seating bowl is a north-south configured horseshoe. Suites are found above the second deck and in the open, south end. Seats are padded and offer cup holders. Above the floor, fans will find the championship banners for the Knighthawks Champions' Cup teams of 1997, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Also, the four-sided videoboard, which for some reason is off-center, is adequate for the fan's enjoyment, but can no longer be considered state of the art.
The in-game promotions during a Knighthawks game add to the enjoyment of the experience. The Knightengales dance team perform a couple times throughout the game and the mascot R.Thunder travels the crowd in search of kids. The Fancy Dancers are another nod to Native American culture and highlight other typical in-game promotions. A unique feature on the videoboard would be the "Awkward Dad Dance Cam." As with most, if not all, NLL experiences, music is played throughout the game, adding to the energy and excitement of game play.
If you are interested in making sure you can see the Knighthawks logo correctly on Connors & Ferris Field, then you want to get seats on the west side of the area, sections 119 to 127. Due to the small capacity of the arena, almost all of the seats offer a great view. To avoid the more expensive seats, you may want to select seats in the upper end of one of the closed end corners in the lower bowl.
The neighborhood immediately surrounding Blue Cross Arena is pretty good and offers some places to do other things as well as great places for pre or postgame meals and libations.
There are a few good options within walking distance from Blue Cross Arena to consider. Legends Bar and Grille is located just north of the arena and is a typical sports bar atmosphere. The Red Front Restaurant is a little farther and offers a diner atmosphere. If you only get one choice, then you have to try Dinosaur BBQ. A small, Western New York / Upstate New York chain, Dinosaur BBQ has unbelievable barbecue cuisine and is among the most popular spots in the city. Consider making a reservation online for an early dinner, or prepare to wait. Either way it is well worth it!
The Blue Cross Arena is shared with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. They don't usually both play at home during the same weekend, but some creative scheduling may prove fruitful for the ardent roadtripper. Also, Frontier Field, home of the International League's Rochester Red Wings is a couple miles to the west of Blue Cross Arena. However, for young and old alike, a trip to the National Museum of Play is a must. Complete with historical toy displays and classic video arcade, opening and closing this place is not out of the question.
There are numerous hotels in the immediate vicinity of Blue Cross Arena. The Hyatt Regency Rochester may be a good choice for you.
With a population of just over 210,000, Rochester is a typical minor league city. The attendance at Knighthawks games has been steady but unspectacular and the fans in the stands are supportive.
Over the past five seasons, the Knighthawks have averaged between 6,800 and 7,600 fans per game. This is good for the sixth best attendance in the National Lacrosse League. With a capacity of 10,000 and considering the success the team has had on the field, expectations for higher attendance figures are not unfounded. That being said, the attendance has been extremely steady and is not totally out of line with the rest of the league.
The fans in the stands are intelligent and have been loyal to their team for many years. The crowd noise is decent. The culmination of their support comes with the introduction of the visiting team members, where after each member is introduced, the crowd responds with an emphatic "SUCKS!"
The Blue Cross Arena is fairly accessible and enjoyable to be at. It is located immediately north of I-490 and getting there is pretty easy.
Being a small city, the public transit in Rochester consists of the local buses of the Rochester Transit System. There are numerous bus stops around the arena. There are many lines that stop at South and Court just across the river from the arena. Transit details can be found at www.myrts.com.
There are a few parking options near Blue Cross Arena. You can find parking for $10 or less around the arena. The large lot just south of the arena, across from Court Street is a good option. If you are studious, you may be able to find street parking.
The atrium on the north side of the building houses the ticket windows. There is ample room in the atrium before the gates open, but it fills quickly. Season ticket holders are allowed entry first, which is great for them, but is a little disconcerting for those waiting to enter who are not season subscribers.
Moving around the arena is not too difficult. Concourses are decent size and not too difficult to maneuver. Washroom facilities are adequate for the size of the arena. The entry from the main atrium entails climbing a large staircase to the main concourse. Trips to the upper deck also entail a large stair climb from the main concourse.
Catching a NLL game provides great value for the ticket buying consumer and offers a family friendly pricing system.
With the small capacity of the Blue Cross Arena, there are only two main ticket prices. Adult prices are $30 or $35 per ticket. Ticket packages and promotions can bring the price down a bit. Parking prices are pretty decent and concession prices are good compared to the other arenas in the league.
An extra point for the longevity of the Rochester Knighthawks in a league that has had numerous teams relocate or cease operations.
An extra point for the City of Rochester, a minor league city hanging in a league with major league cities like Toronto, Denver and Buffalo.
An extra point for the on-field success of the Rochester Knighthawks, culminating in their three straight Champions' Cups from 2012 to 2014.
The Rochester Knighthawks provide a great atmosphere and family friendly product at a good price. These are all of the key factors required for a successful franchise. If you have never seen indoor lacrosse before, you don't know what you are missing. If you are looking for a good first impression, then the Knighthawks may be the Knights for you.
Member Review by akulyk on Apr 08, 2012
The Rochester Knighthawks are one of the flagship franchises in the National Lacrosse League. Beginning play in 1995, the team has missed the playoffs just once in its existence, and has two league championships to its credit, won in 1997 and 2007. The organization used to be part of the umbrella AHL Rochester Americans, but with that team being sold to the Buffalo Sabres, the Knighthawks now operate independently.
99 Court St
Rochester, NY 14604
128 North Clinton Ave
Rochester, NY 14604