- Andrew Kulyk
Alumni Arena – Buffalo Bulls
Photo Courtesy of UBBulls.com
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Alumni Arena 175 Alumni Arena Buffalo, NY 14260
Year Opened: 1982
The Bulls of Buffalo
Alumni Arena, a key piece of the State University of New York at Buffalo’s recreation and athletic complex, is located on the north campus of the university in suburban Amherst, New York. Built in 1982, the facility is part of a vast and sprawling campus which, incredibly, is almost perfectly designed for car travel – and that’s within the campus itself! Alumni Arena is primarily home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams, wrestling team and men’s volleyball team. An extensive renovation was performed in 2012, adding new chairback seating to reduce capacity to 6100, as well as additions of new lighting, video scoreboard, improved training facilities and a renovated concourse.
Food & Beverage 4
Upgrades to the concession fare boost this score to a respectable four stars. The team has added numerous hot food items, including a personal pan pizza (cheese $4.75, pepperoni $5.00), the UB BBQ pulled pork sandwich ($4.75), Italian or Polish Sausage topped with kraut or peppers/onions ($4.25), and Buffalo’s famed Beef on Weck sandwich ($5.50). Combos come with soda pop and chips. Pepsi products are sold here ($2.75) as well as Tim Hortons coffee, hot chocolate, and cappuccino. ($2.75). No alcohol is served in this facility.
The atmosphere here is a hit or miss sort of thing. Go during winter break when the students are away and the place can feel like a mausoleum. Catch a big game when the arena is full and things will be rocking.
Unfortunately, the team has never been to the NCAA tournament since its promotion to Division One. The Bulls’ closest call came back in 2005, when in the MAC tournament finals UB held an 18 point lead against Ohio in the second half, only to see it evaporate, and Ohio won on a buzzer beater. An elusive MAC title and a trip to The Dance would undoubtedly elevate the program and its fan support.
The massive campus was built on a swamp as part of the larger master plan to transform this suburb into a huge planned community. That population explosion never happened, nor did a long promised Metrorail extension to ferry people from this campus to downtown Buffalo. Arriving by car is the preferred method for getting to the UB campus.
Restaurant choices are abundant, but all are located some distance from campus, as even getting off the campus and into civilization can be a chore. Zetti’s Pizza on Maple Road is a good campus hangout. Duff’s famous wings on Sheridan/Millersport is a Buffalo institution. Just north up Millersport is Elmo’s, offering terrific pub fare. Go west about a mile on Maple Road, and you will happen upon Boulevard Mall. Casual dining eateries and national chains abound there, so take your pick.
Another score upgrade is in order for the fans, who are embracing the team and the program in greater numbers, with the team enjoying another competitive season, and an arena which is warmer and friendlier on the eyes and contains more amenities. It is still a work in progress, however. More student support, drawing on a base of over 20,000 who attend here at UB, would be a huge step.
Hopefully one day we can report that the Amherst extension of the Metrorail has been funded and built, but for now driving is the best way to get to Alumni Arena. Once you follow the signs up Millersport and onto the ring road surrounding the campus’ academic spine, things get a bit dicey. There are massive parking lots, many of which are full on game night evenings, as the campus is in continuous use. Find a spot and then hoof it up to the arena, as there are few spots actually close to the building itself. Additionally, the Slee concert hall is right next door, and when there is a performance going on at the same time it adds to the congestion. Departing after the game can also be difficult to navigate, but once off campus and on the ring road or Millersport, things move quickly.
Return on Investment 3
A 300 level ticket is priced at $15, and 100 and 200 level seats run $25. The ushers are pretty laid back here so upgrading from the nosebleeds is not a problem. Parking is free, and concession prices, while not dirt cheap, aren’t eye poppingly expensive either.
Place a star for the Bulls Team Shop on the main concourse, which is a nicely appointed merchandise store.
A second star is awarded for an amenity which has yet to be finished but is now underway- an interactive museum and Hall of Fame. Located in the arena lobby and concourse, the Hall of Fame is advertised via a huge banner in the lobby. Once completed, fans will be able to search inductees via a touch screen and view exhibits.
The building is hardly an architectural marvel, but a brutalist box shaped structure sitting amidst a campus which does not inspire the senses. UB Athletics has, however, taken great steps to improve the venue, soften the look and feel of public spaces and add amenities to enhance the game day experience. Find a weekend game, preferably one being televised on one of the ESPN’s, with something at stake, and you’ll happen upon a game night atmosphere worth checking out.