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Official Review by Brian O'Sullivan, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Major League Lacrosse started in 2001 with six original members. Since its inception, the MLL has been looking to gain a following in a number of different markets across the country. One of its original members, the Rochester Rattlers, has called a number of different venues home, especially over the course of the last few years. Playing in three different venues in as many years has made it more difficult for the Rattlers to settle in and make a field feel like their own.
The Wegmans Sports Complex, on the campus of Aquinas Institute, is the current home of the Rattlers. The complex replaced the former Holleder Memorial Stadium, which housed the Rochester Lancers of the North American Soccer League during the twentieth century. The 20,000 seat stadium was torn down in 1985 to make room for an industrial park. Aquinas Institute eventually built the much smaller Wegmans Sports Complex in 2005. The Rattlers started playing in the complex in 2016.
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 food sold at the Wegmans Sports Complex for Rattlers games is exactly the same as the offerings for football games at Aquinas Institute, which means that the options are quite limited and no alcohol is served.
The Rattlers have one main concession stand that is located directly adjacent to the seating area. The concession stand offers pretty standard options, including hot dogs ($3) and cheeseburgers ($4.50). One of the more unique offerings is the pizza log for $3.50.
The Rattlers have a variety of Pepsi products available at the concession stand as well. Unfortunately, because the Wegmans Sports Complex is located on the campus of a high school, the sale of alcohol is prohibited.
Directly in front of the concession stand, there is a great place to stand and take in the action on the field while eating.
The Wegmans Sports Complex is not a sufficient facility for a Major League Lacrosse team, but the Rattlers do a fairly good job of making an enjoyable game day atmosphere.
The Wegmans Sports Complex is the smallest venue in all of Major League Lacrosse. The complex is made up of a number of fields that surround the main field where the Rattlers play. The complex has one main seating area, which is comprised of mostly metal bleachers with no backs. The center section of seating, which is the one reserved section, does have backs to the seats. A handful of on-field suites are located directly next to the sideline, but these seats are only available for full season packages. A basic scoreboard is located directly across the field. The seating located directly in front of the press box offers the opportunity to hear the television broadcast while taking in the action.
The Rattlers have a dance team called the "Rattle Shakes" who perform at various points throughout the game. Additionally, the Rattlers have various other promotions throughout the game, as well as before and after the game. Some of the other promotions include a pre-game parade around the field for the kids and a post-game opportunity to shoot on the Rattlers' goalie.
Since there is only one main seating area, any location in general admission is bound to provide a good view of the field. The sun will set behind the seating area, so it is usually not an issue during the game.
The Wegmans Sports Complex is located in a fairly residential area, just outside of downtown Rochester.
Downtown Rochester is about three miles from the complex and offers a wide variety of options to grab a bite to eat before or after the game. If you have never been to Rochester, the locals love talking about a favorite dish that got its start in the city: the garbage plate. The favorite place to grab a garbage plate is Nick Tahou Hots, which is located right downtown. A healthier alternative to Nick Tahou Hots is located just up the road at The Red Fern, where there is a good selection of vegan and gluten-free options.
The Rattlers play almost all of their home games during the summer months. One of the most famous sports team in Rochester, the Rochester Red Wings, also play most of their home games during the summer months at Frontier Field. It is definitely worth it to take in a game at this historic field. For a break from sports, a slightly more lighthearted option is the Strong National Museum of Play.
The best options for accommodations are located in downtown Rochester. The Hilton Garden Inn offers a prime location as well as reasonable rates. The options near the complex are relatively limited because of the residential neighborhood.
The Wegmans Sports Complex boasts a family friendly atmosphere that brings a large amount of young lacrosse players to watch the stars in action.
Even though the capacity of the Wegmans Sports Complex is limited, especially in comparison to some of the other MLL teams, the Rattlers do a fairly good job of drawing fans. The complex is not usually at capacity, but it does feel quite full, especially during the game.
Crowd engagement is above average, but there are some periods of extended silence. With a lot of young fans in attendance, many families are roaming the complex and are not fixated on the action taking place on the field. The large majority of fans, however, do cheer when the Rattlers score and create noise at the proper times. For such a small venue, the crowd noise is better than expected.
The Wegmans Sports Complex is relatively easy to get to by vehicle and navigate once inside the confines of the complex.
The best way to get to the Wegmans Sports Complex via public transportation is on the 22 bus, which drops off right by Aquinas Institute. Since the complex is a few miles from downtown, walking is not the best option.
Driving is the best option to get to the Wegmans Sports Complex. A parking lot is located directly next to the Wegmans Sports Complex and costs $5. The parking lot can get fairly full, so it is a good idea to get to the game early.
The Wegmans Sports Complex has one main gate of entry, where the ticket sales location is also located. To save a few bucks and a few trees, the Rattlers offer a slight discount on tickets ordered online prior to the game.
The concourse behind the seating area is spacious, but does not offer a view of the playing field. The restrooms are kept clean and are easily accessible from the seating area. As for handicap accessibility, the complex is flat and wheelchair accessible all throughout every area.
With fairly reasonable ticket prices and moderately priced concessions, a trip to see a Rochester Rattlers game is not a bad investment.
The Rattlers offer two seating options: general admission ($15) and reserved seating ($20). Unless a seat back is a must, general admission seats are the best option. With parking costing $5 and the average concession item costing around the same amount, a family of four can enjoy a game for under $100. Even though this is more than some other sports teams in Rochester, the Rattlers offer an intimate environment to take in the highest level of professional lacrosse.
The Rattlers distribute complementary rosters upon entry, which provide additional information about the players on the field. Additionally, there is a merchandise stand that offers a variety of apparel, including replica jerseys.
The Rattlers need to find a home in Rochester. Whether this move entails going back to Sahlen's Stadium or finding another appropriate venue, the Wegmans Sports Complex is not suited for a Major League Lacrosse team. The Rattlers, however, seem to be doing the best they can with their situation.
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320 Main St.
Rochester, NY 14608
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Rochester, NY 14604