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Official Review by Peter Farrell, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
For decades, hearty souls have traveled into the heart of Buffalo on chilly winter nights to enjoy a night of basketball at the Koessler Center. Opened in 1968, the Koessler Center seats just over 2,000 spectators. It's a small but vibrant venue that resembles a glorified high school gymnasium, and if you're in the mood for a little roundball it's as good a place as the region has to offer.
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 fare is very, very standard here, and I'm saying that politely. There isn't much else besides soda, pizza, popcorn, nachos, hot dogs for sale here. The upside is that no item costs more than 2 dollars to purchase, and they offer a deal in which a soda and a dog only costs 3 dollars. That's what I did, and while it wasn't the best dog in the world the price certainly was more than acceptable. If you're lucky enough to be (or know) a season ticket holder there's a corner called the "Griffins Den" that offers up free subs, sodas, chip, and pretzels and such during halftime.
Seating capacity is a bit over two thousand. A smaller crowd in the hundreds was at the Koessler on this visit and that's a bit less than normal as a non-league opponent, St. Francis, was in town.
The acoustics of the building are such that it still had the feel of a lively building, and when the opposition is a rival like Niagara, Buffalo, St. Bonaventure, Siena etc., then this place is full and a raucous building to see a game. With the venue's small capacity, there isn't a poor seat to be had here. Seats along the sides have seatbacks, and seats under the baskets are bleachers, so keep that in consideration as you choose your ticket.
Canisius is found in a solid area in the city of Buffalo, but the immediate area is devoid of restaurants and such. I would suggest heading a few blocks west to Elmwood Avenue where there's plenty of places to hit for pre and post game activities.
If you wish to drive for a few minutes down Main Street from the campus, there's the Anchor Bar and Grill, best known for being the original home of the chicken wing.
The fans are decent, although there wasn't a lot to go on during my visit thanks to the small crowd. It seemed like a situation in which this was the diehard crew that attends all games regardless of record/opponent. So it was still a passionate audience that attended that night's game, and when the night began to get ugly they let the Griffs know it.
A fan can get here by car via the Main Street exit from Route 198 (Scajaquada Expressway) or subway (Delevan/College station) just a block away from the arena location at the corner of Main and Delevan. There is plenty of free parking around in campus lots and on nearby plazas and side streets.
Being that this has a high school gym feel to it, getting around at the Koessler is a pretty easy deal. Walk into the building, grab a ticket at the booth, turn to your right and there's the gym.
Restrooms can be an issue as there's only one facility for each gender. Not a problem for the sparsely attended game that I went to but when the place is full, you have to use it at non peak times to avoid missing the game.
I spent $8 for a General Admission ticket and sat wherever I pleased (there is reserved seating for $13), and had a hot dog and soda for $3. Parking was free. In total, I just spent $11 at a Division I college basketball game. There isn't anything wrong with that! Sure, rarely does a player on his way to the NBA stop here, and the food was far from a fine dining establishment, but to see a quality of basketball for this price was just fine with me.
There is a small trophy case out in the lobby commemorating the big moments of Canisius hoops history. None bigger than a shocking NCAA tournament upset of #2 ranked North Carolina State in four overtimes back in 1957.
Do you know the nickname of Canisius College athletic teams? They're the Golden Griffins, but the locals call them the Griffs for short. I think it's one of the best nicknames in college sports. Famous players? Ummmm, how about Mike Smrek, backup center for some of the Magic/Kareem era Lakers in the early 80's.
Member Review by profan9 on Jan 04, 2013
I was at Canisius for a rare game on ESPNU where they played rival Niagara. The atmosphere was electric and much better than expected. Although the fans are not always in this really small gym, they sure came out for this game which gets Koessler a higher Fan mark. Food is nothing spectacular and the neighbourhood is okay. Forget 20,000 fans, a packed gym of 2,000 is every bit as good as any big program!
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