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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Waldo Stadium was built in 1939, and has been home to Western Michigan University's football team ever since. The stadium currently has a capacity of 30,200, which is exactly the same capacity as in-state rival Eastern Michigan's Rynearson Stadium.
The Seelye Center, which sits in the northeast end zone at Waldo Stadium, was added in 2003, and includes an indoor practice facility, weight rooms, offices, and some suites. The main scoreboard above the southwest end zone was also added in 2003, while the two video boards on either side of the Seelye Center were added in 2014-2015, during the most recent set of renovations here.
'Row the Boat' is the mantra of the WMU Broncos, brought in by their new coach and popularized since then, so you will see those words dotted around the field, and be reminded of it when the team enters the field carrying giant oars. 'Row the boat' is all about keeping your oars in the water and moving forward.
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".
Waldo Stadium offers your typical stadium fare, most of which is available at all of their main stands. There are a couple of items, however, that are only available in certain locations. Food items range in price from $2 to $7, while drinks cost $3-$4.
Food selections include hot dogs, burgers, BBQ chicken sandwiches, mac and cheese, and two kinds of nachos, as well as soft pretzels, popcorn, Sun chips, boxed candy, cinnamon-glazed or chocolate-covered nuts, and cotton candy. The most difficult items to find are the soft pretzels and the nuts; the nuts are only sold at specialty kiosks, of which there are only two in the stadium (near the end zones), while the soft pretzels are only available at a couple of the main stands.
Drink options include bottled soda (Pepsi products), bottled water, Gatorade, coffee, and hot cocoa. There is no alcohol available in Waldo Stadium.
Waldo Stadium has seating on all 4 sides, with gaps in each corner. There are three scoreboards, two above the northeast end zone and one above the southwest end zone, so fans sitting anywhere in the stadium can see them easily. The big one is on the southwest side, the other two are smaller.
The staff does a lot of fun things to enhance the experience, the most memorable of which is having someone ride a horse onto the field before the team comes on. They also shoot off a howitzer after every score, which is located above the east corner if you want to snap a pic. They also have 'Row the Boat' signage all around the field, as well as other Broncos-themed signage such as 'Welcome to Kalamazoo' spelled out in front of the northwest stands.
The WMU band is probably one of the most active I have ever seen, with constant motion and dancing; before the game they spell out W-M-U facing both directions, so fans on either sideline can see it right-side up. This is really cool because most college bands will only do formations one way, so half the fans see it upside down. And the activity doesn't stop there either; all throughout the game the band will dance and jump up and down in their seats, and will also do additional formations after a win.
Waldo Stadium is located near Western Michigan University's main campus, and there are lots of great restaurants nearby. University Roadhouse and Waldo's Tavern are great choices, both of which are within walking distance of the stadium. University Roadhouse offers burgers, pasta, seafood, and sandwiches, as well as drink specials every day of the week; Saturday's special is $4 Long Island iced teas. Waldo's Tavern, on the other hand, has typical bar food such as wings, burgers, and pizza, but also boasts cheap drinks.
If the college student scene isn't your bent, however, a little further from the stadium you can find Eccentric Café and Kalamazoo Beer Exchange. Eccentric Café has local beers from Bell's Brewery, located right here in Kalamazoo, while Kalamazoo Beer Exchange offers darts, pinball, and pool.
There are also several hotels in the area; Comfort Inn is the closest to Waldo Stadium, and has reasonable rates. If you are looking for something a little cheaper, however, Knights Inn is also close. And if you are going to be in town for the day or for the weekend, check out the Kalamazoo Valley Museum or the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts before or after the game.
Fans at Waldo Stadium make a lot of noise, but tend to arrive late and leave early; even 20 minutes after kickoff you will see long lines at the ticket windows outside the stadium. And after a win, when the band does their celebratory songs and maneuvers in appreciation of the fans, hardly anyone sticks around long enough to watch.
On the plus side, unlike many stadiums, you will hear just as much noise from the alums as from the students; the students sit along the northwest sideline, with the band, while alums sit on the southeast side under the press box. Both sides make plenty of noise during the game, and you will see lots of team gear in both areas; the two end zones will generally be deserted. At a typical game attendance runs between 15K and 20K, or about half to two-thirds full.
There are plenty of parking lots all around Waldo Stadium, some of which are reserved for pass holders; these tend to be on the front side along Michigan Avenue. The back side is where you want to be if you are paying cash, and you can park for just $10 within a few blocks of the stadium. There are gates all around the outside, so you can enter wherever you want, but note that will call is at Gate 1, next to the southwest end zone.
Once you get inside, moving around is fairly easy. The bathrooms are a bit dilapidated, but there are plenty of them, and there are concessions stands all over the place. There is also a walkway that connects the 4 sets of stand, so if your side is too crowded, or too loud, you can move around. There are no ramps into the stands that I saw, but those with special needs can sit in front of the walkway on any side, on little cutouts built for that purpose.
Tickets at Waldo Stadium start at $20, and concessions and parking are on par with other small sports stadiums, so seeing a game here is a good value for the money. Tickets are just as cheap at the door as they are if you buy ahead, so you may as well wait; the stadium never sells out, which also means you can't get tickets any cheaper from scalpers or re-sellers.
One unique thing about seeing a game here is that there is a railroad track on the front side, so you can actually sometimes see Amtraks going by during the game. They also play a lot of retro music during breaks in the action, which is a lot of fun to dance to.
Waldo Stadium is a great stadium to visit, and the Broncos are a pretty good team of late. The Broncos do play in the MAC, so you may not see a lot of big-name schools come here, but it is still a fun experience. The staff does a great job trying to make it fun, and all the décor will help get you into the Bronco spirit.
Member Review by profan9
Is there anything better than Homecoming? The opportunity for alumni to return to the establishment that they gave three, four, or more years of their lives; The opportunity to return to the family that you once had in your early twenties; The opportunity to participate in a variety of activities put on by the alma mater; The opportunity to see the Homecoming game.
The Homecoming game has been an American tradition since who-knows-when and this reporter found out the Homecoming game tradition is alive and well at Western Michigan.
Located in Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University has fielded a football team since 1906. The Broncos joined the Mid-America Conference in 1946 and currently play in the Football Bowl Series group of conferences.
In 1936, Western Michigan built the first phase of what is now known as Waldo Stadium. Named after the original president of WMU, Dwight B. Waldo, Waldo Stadium has seen thousands of fans and players pass through its doors. It retains a certain charm after two separate major renovations.
Member Review by paul on Dec 14, 2014
For more than 100 years, Western Michigan University Broncos football has been played at the site of Waldo Stadium. The current venue was first utilized in 1939, with a capacity at the time of just 15,000. Waldo Stadium is located next to Hyames Field, and was constructed at the same time as the baseball stadium. Hyames Field is probably best known as being the site of the first ever College World Series in 1947.
The stadium is named for Dwight B. Waldo, the first president of WMU. Today, the stadium features four separate stands on each side of the field and has doubled its capacity, seating 30,200.
The Broncos compete in the west division of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), and have been members of the conference since 1947. However, in all that time, they have only claimed two MAC Championships.
Originally known as the Hilltoppers, the team changed their team nickname in 1939, coinciding with the opening of Waldo Stadium, and they have been known as the Broncos ever since. The Broncos have made eight appearances in bowl games, including most recently the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2014, but they have yet to come out victorious in any of their post season match-ups.
Waldo Stadium, built in to a hillside on the northeast side of the Western Michigan campus, provides a pleasant and affordable college football environment.
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