There are few things better than taking a drive through the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania on a cool autumn day for some football. In the middle of scenic Lewisburg is Bucknell University, and the Bison play football at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. It has been awhile since the team has seen success as their one and only Patriot League title came in 1996. Though you can find a better overall football and stadium experience at rivals Lehigh and Lafayette a couple hours to the east, a trip to Bucknell is worth a visit to the town and scenic region.
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Not too much is offered, and though I would recommend eating in-town before or after the game, there are enough options to keep you full. Hot Dogs ($2.25), Cheeseburgers ($4.00) and Italian Sausages are the main foods, while the rest are primarily snacks. There was a Pulled Pork Sandwich ($3.75), but it was gross, bad enough for me to throw out. The hot dog I had however was good and filling. It was great seeing a "soup of the day" on the menu as that came in handy for many on a chilly day. There are several drink options available like ice tea, hot chocolate, PowerAde, and fountain soda.
Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium isn't the coziest of venues as a track keeps fans a little further back from the football field. The seating design is a partial horseshoe and that leads to seats in the corners being quite far away. Given that there is not too much of a crowd, nobody sits out here. Bleachers make up most of the seats, while closer to midfield, there are several sections that have small, blue chairs. Sitting on the west side stands (the home side) provides a nice view of some campus buildings along with overhanging trees. A great touch was at the south end of the stadium, where landscaping was filled in during a late-'80s renovation and shrubs were cut so they spell out "Bucknell". Crowd noise during the game was minimal and though it was nice to have a pep band, they played way too much and could be heard after just about every play in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th quarters.
Lewisburg is a quaint borough and worth a stroll through the center of town on Market Street. One could even take a long walk from downtown to Bucknell's campus. Market Street is charming with several great local places to eat, drink, and hang out. The Lewisburg Hotel is a great place whether going for a nice dinner or out for a drink and a bite at the bar. Another one of the several great options around town is the Town Tavern, a local place more geared towards the bar scene.
The amount of fans was lacking when you compare it to similar schools within the Patriot League. The game I attended was both Homecoming and Senior Day. Though the announced paid attendance was over 6,000, I would estimate only 3,000 or so were actually there as only the middle stands (between the 30-yard lines) filled up on one side of the stadium. They were there for support, but I would say most were only mildly interested. The crowd noise during a huge defensive third-down play towards the end of the game did not generate much more noise than what you would hear at other points in the game.
Bucknell and the stadium is easy to get to as it is right off of U.S. Route 15. If you're coming from Interstate 80, the trip is only about 10 minutes down Route 15. It takes a little longer if you're arriving from the south and using the Pennsylvania Turnpike or I-81. The biggest problem with the stadium experience here is the total lack of direction when it comes to parking. There is nobody directing you where to go when you arrive at the stadium and no signage either. So, you are forced to drive around looking for parking on a campus that is limited in that regard. I ended up in a lot behind Fraternity Row, hoping it was fine to park there. Even looking online, the parking map gives you no direction as it only displays the locations of certain tailgates.
As for bathrooms, though there is only two of each, they are surprisingly spacious and halftime didn't feature any lines for men or women.
A Bison football game is very affordable with a general admission ticket going for $8 and a reserved seat only $10. Combine that with free parking and cheap concessions, a football afternoon in Lewisburg is quite reasonable. The quality of football and atmosphere may not be great, but it's worth spending a serene fall afternoon in Bucknell and Lewisburg.
Right at the main entrance of the stadium is a stand-alone plaque recognizing and describing Christy Mathewson, whom the stadium is named after. Mathewson was a Bucknell alum who went on to become part of the first class entered into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Additionally, famous Bison coaches are honored with similar plaques and descriptions in the landscaped area towards the South end zone.
Follow all of Sean's journeys at Stadium & Arena Visits.
It's been close to 11 years since I have graduated from Bucknell, but somethings never seem to change. After reading Sean Rowland's review I agree on almost everything he has to say.
Food & Beverage:
Nothing special here, just your average burgers and dogs. Your best bet is to arrive a bit early and do some tailgating. No alcohol is sold inside the stadium, so if that is your thing, make sure to lube up before the game as Tom Brady once said! I am not sure on the current rules on campus for tailgating, but the campus police didn't bug anyone unless you call attention to yourself. If you are looking for beer for your tailgate, check out the Beer Barn on Rt 15 just to the north of campus.
Football games at Bucknell were not much of a big thing for the campus. I never saw the stadium more than half full, and I think that was on a parents weekend.
The main street that runs through Lewisburg is perfect for a little stroll before or after the game. I recently saw some pictures of town and things really haven't changed much. The Lewisburg Hotel was always a favorite of mine to go and bring my parents to when they came to visit.
Watch out for games that fall on Penn State home games as traffic can be a bear depending on where you are coming from!! You could always tell Penn State was having a game based on the amount of traffic coming through town on a Saturday morning. From what I remember most people parked along Fraternity Road and on the hill to the south of the stadium by the observatory.
After the game, if you have time you can always stop at BJs Rib and Steak house (http://www.bjsribs.com) in either Selinsgrove or Danville. It was always a student favorite for a Sunday night out for dinner. And don't forget to see the foliage along the river next to campus as the views can be quite breath taking during peak season.
And finally, if you are in town with some friends and interested in catching a quick game of 9 or 18 holes before or after the game, check out the Buckenll golf course across from campus which was always in great shape when I was at school.
136 Market St
Lewisburg, PA 17837
600 Market St
Lewisburg, PA 17837
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