Buffalo State Sports Arena (map it)
1300 Elmwood Ave
Buffalo, NY 14222
Year Opened: 1991
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Buffalo, New York has a long and strong hockey tradition. The Sabres are legendary in Western New York and have hosted names like Perreault, Gare, Robert, Martin, Hasek and Lafontaine among others. It is only natural that this strong hockey tradition has trickled down to the lower levels of hockey. Enter the Golden Griffins.
Founded in 1870, Canisius College is a small, private, Roman Catholic university in the heart of Buffalo. With a student enrollment of under 4,000 undergrads, Canisius fields a healthy compliment of athletic teams, the most popular of which are the basketball and hockey teams. The Griffs hockey team plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association of the NCAA. The Griffs home ice is in the center of campus ... of another university!
Playing on the campus of Division III Buffalo State at the Buffalo State Ice Arena, the Griffs are faced with some unique challenges that most college teams are not saddled with. The final product ends up being a real "what if" situation, where fans are left with an experience that doesn't seem quite as good as it should be.
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".
The Buffalo State Ice Arena has a kind of extended snack bar. They do have the basics including soda, popcorn and hot dogs. The prices are decent and you won't break the bank. What puts the concessions above the basement is the presence of a Tim Horton's at the concessions. All of the regular TH beverages are available, and this is a good thing. A hot chocolate in a cold arena goes a long way.
The Buffalo State Ice Arena is a decent college hockey facility. It is not fancy. It is not historic. It is functional, but for Canisius games it is definitely stale. This is made worse by the limited decor, which is almost exclusively for the Buffalo State Bengals.
The seating area features 12 sections of 10 rows of wooden benches. After having experienced other college arenas, wooden benches are a blessing as they are much warmer in a cold arena than their aluminium compatriots. There are wide platforms behind the seating, which many fans choose to view the game from. Seating is general admission, so you have the opportunity to find the spot that offers you the best sightlines. Standing room is quite popular. There is a student section, but for this game was pretty much empty.
The Ice Arena is part of the larger Buffalo State Sports Arena. The building itself is fairly non-descript, and it may take a while to find it if you don't know what you're looking for. The campus is currently under a fair bit of construction.
The in game production is very simple. The acoustics in the arena remind you of the minor hockey arenas of your youth, where it is really difficult to figure out what the PA announcer is saying.
The campus of Buffalo State is fairly large, but contained. You are going to have to get off campus to find options to eat. In the immediate area, there are not many options. You may want to try Cole's on Elmwood Ave.
Your better bet is to head south to downtown Buffalo to hit one of the staples for Sabres games. Pearl Street Grill and Washington Square have some great wings. Also, the Riverstone Grill on Grand Island is a good spot if you are heading out of town.
Full disclosure for this game ... it was played during the final Sunday of the winter break, at noon. The Buffalo State campus was extremely quiet, and I would assume the Canisius campus was quiet as well. That being said, there were over 600 people in attendance, which is not too far off of their season average. However, Canisius draws one of the lowest game averages in all of NCAA hockey. The fans that were in attendance were pretty laid back and quiet. I'm assuming that the empty student section would have had a few patrons if school was fully in session. It is clear, however, that Canisius has to do a better job of capturing the attention of Buffalo and the Canisius students to get a better mark here.
Buffalo State is located north of downtown Buffalo, and just south of Grand Island. It is bordered by the Scalaquada Expressway, and campus has easy access. However, campus itself is a bit of a maze, and many of the buildings are not labelled very well. It would be a mistake to enter campus on the Elmwood side, rather stick close to Rees Street to have easier access to the sports arena. Look for the track and field stadium. There is more than sufficient parking, and on the day of this review it was free. Inside, the washroom facilities are more than adequate, and there is no problem travelling through the arena.
The investment for Canisius hockey is not very high at all. Adult tickets are $10 each, and there are discounts for children. Concessions won't blow you away, so you won't spend much here, and parking can be had for nothing. Where Canisius hockey falls off is in the return. The atmosphere is stale, and the building is normally half empty. Although you will not invest much, the return is such that you will not get much past the product that is on the ice.
An extra mark for the Canisius/Niagara "Battle of the Bridge" rivalry, in which both teams compete across a number of varsity sports.
If you are a hockey nut, a trip to Buffalo State for a Canisus game will satisfy your need for a decent hockey product. However, you will find a much better atmosphere on the Canisius College campus in the Koessler Athletic Center for a basketball game. To capture the attention of the Buffalo sports fan, and Canisius student, it seems clear that an alternate venue, either on or closer to the Canisius campus is the way to go. Either way, this is a place the average fan just won't love.
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