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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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concession offerings at Waldo Stadium are fairly basic, but there is certainly enough to get you through the contest. You'll find most of your basics including hot dogs ($3), nachos ($4), cheeseburger ($5), grilled chicken sandwich ($6), Polish sausage ($4), and BBQ sandwich ($5). The quality is better than average for stadium fare. I recommend the Polish sausage or cheeseburger.
Snacks available include potato chips ($1), candy ($2), popcorn ($2 or $4), and cotton candy ($3). Pepsi products and Aquafina are available in 20-ounce plastic bottles ($3). For cold weather games fans can grab a coffee or hot chocolate ($3). The coffee comes from local roaster Water Street Coffee, and is an excellent choice.
There is minimal space between the stands and the sideline, making views very good throughout Waldo Stadium. If you sit in the first few rows, you will feel very close to the action indeed.
Almost all seats are metal bleachers, so you may want to bring a seat cushion or back with you to Waldo Stadium. If you don't own one yourself, the seat cushions are available for $5. There are 8-11 rows of mustard colored chairback seats, but they are primarily available for season ticket holders, so most fans should plan on sitting on a bleacher bench.
The only covered seats can be found in the north end zone, so if it seems to be a rainy or snowy day, the try to find a spot in the back rows of the north end zone.
The visiting team is located on the east side of the stadium (the side with the large grand stand and press box), while the Broncos take up the west sideline. The marching band and student section sit side by side near the center of the field on the west side behind the team.
The game day presentation is fairly simple. The scoreboard on the south side does have video capabilities and will show live play and the occasional replay. Avoid the south end zone seats if you want to be able to see the scoreboard.
On the northeast side of the stadium there is a cannon which is fired after scores or upon kickoff. It is really loud, so if you startle easily, make sure you're prepared.
Kalamazoo, Michigan is a wonderful town, and there are numerous bars and restaurants worth visiting before or after the game. Beer lovers will know that Bell's Brewery can be found in Kalamazoo. Head to the Eccentric Cafe for good appetizers and sandwiches, and samples of more than 20 of the fantastic Bell's beers. In the adjoining gift shop, you could also pick up a Growler to take to a tailgate party near the stadium. The store opens at 11am on Saturdays. It's about a mile and a half drive from here to Waldo Stadium.
The Kalamazoo Beer Exchange is about a block away from Bell's, and is another great stop for beer lovers, although probably a better post game destination. Starting around 6pm each night beer prices vary based on the demand of its customers, providing a unique and energetic atmosphere for its patrons. Sandwiches and entrees are tasty, and are served with homemade potato chips, still hot from the fryer. You can also find an electronic dart board, two pool tables, and three pinball machines here for further amusement.
If you would like to dine or drink within walking distance of Waldo Stadium, then University Roadhouse is located just across the street and is a popular destination for fans before or after the game. Waldo's Tavern is also a popular destination within walking distance.
If you're staying overnight in Kalamazoo, the Comfort Inn is located halfway between Waldo Stadium and Bell's Brewery and would be a good choice, with rooms starting around $100 per night.
Western Michigan fans are very friendly and welcoming of visitors. They cheer for their team, but are by and large a fairly laid back crew of supporters. The students seem a little bit more interested.
Sellouts are rare, the team hasn't filled up the stadium since a 2007 game against Indiana. In 2014, the team average just over 15,000 fans per game.
Waldo Stadium is easy to find, located just off of Business Route 131, just a few miles from either I-94 or US 131. Once you make it to the stadium, there are parking lots within reasonable walking distance at a cost of $10 off of Michigan Avenue. You can take a shuttle from your spot, and then just need to cross the street to get into the stadium with police officers present to halt traffic and direct the way.
If you're willing to walk a little further, you can find free parking up the hill off of Dormitory Drive at Ellsworth Hall. If you're a really hardy walker, you can just leave your car downtown and walk the mile and a half or so to the stadium.
Inside the stadium, there can be a lot of stairs to navigate. You'll want to make the decision of where you're sitting before going on a wild goose chase.
Tickets range in price from $20 for end zone seats, up to $30 along the sideline. My advice is to purchase the cheaper end zone seat. It is likely that you'll be able to move around and sit where you like, but even if not, the seats are pretty good and close to the action.
Parking is only $10, and can be free if you're willing to walk a bit. Concessions are reasonably priced, and above average in quality. Overall, seeing a Western Michigan football game is a good value, and you'll leave feeling like you got your money's worth.
One extra point for the pre game concert played by the Western Michigan marching band in the track and field facility along Michigan Avenue. From there they march into the stadium, where they are a highlight both before the game on the field, as well as at halftime.
One extra point for the great hills that fans utilize on either side of the main grandstand. During a recent visit in November 2014 these hills were snow-covered, providing endless entertainment for some of the kids in attendance, who took numerous trips sliding down.
One extra point for the great beer that can be found in Kalamazoo.
One final extra point for the All-Americans who have played at Western Michigan, and are honored on the facade above the north end zone. Recognizable names include Greg Jennings, John Offerdahl, Tony Scheffler, and Louis Delmas.
The city of Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University, and Waldo Stadium combine for a solid college football game day experience. Like most venues in the MAC, you won't be left with a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, but you'll get your money's worth. If you enjoy college football, then you'll enjoy Waldo Stadium.
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.
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