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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Chace Athletic Center - Bryant Bulldogs

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71

Chace Athletic Center

1150 Douglas Turnpike Smithfield, RI 02917

Bryant Bulldogs website Chace Athletic Center website

Year Opened: 2001 Capacity: 2,650


Thrill Of The Chace

The Elizabeth and Malcolm Chace Wellness and Athletic Center is a multi-purpose facility on the Bryant University campus in Smithfield, Rhode Island. The building, opened in 2001, serves as home to the Bryant Bulldogs men’s and women’s basketball teams, swimming teams and women’s volleyball team.

Basketball has been played at Bryant University since 1963. The Indians, as the team was then known, originally competed at the NAIA level. In 1976 the team moved up to Division Two, joining the Northeast-10 conference in 1980. The university changed their nickname from the Indians to the more politically correct Bulldogs in 1995. In 2008 the university moved all their athletic teams to Division One, joining the Northeast Conference.

While Bryant has yet to qualify for the NCAA Tournament since moving to Division One, they qualified for seven NCAA Tournaments while competing in Division Two. The Bulldogs won four Northeast-10 Conference championships and reached the D-2 title game in 2005, losing to Virginia Union.

Food & Beverage 2

There is a small concession stand just outside the gym which offers a limited menu. Hot dogs, pizza slices and assorted snacks comprise the entire menu. On the plus side, no item costs more than $3.50.

Coca-Cola products are featured at the Chace Athletic Center. Alcohol is not served at this on-campus facility.

Atmosphere 3

One advantage to playing in a small gym like the one at the Chace Athletic Center is that any noise created here is really amplified. Even when the CAC is half empty, crowd noise makes the small gym feel like it is much fuller. Plus, you are close enough to the action to hear the coaches bark instructions to the players, the squeak of the sneakers on the court and the call of the refs. It’s the best of both worlds.

While the turnout by the student body may be a bit disappointing, the active pep band, cheer squad and dance team help fill the CAC with energy. In addition, Tupper, the school’s mascot, roams the crowd interacting with younger fans. Youth teams take the court during intermission and there are occasional t-shirt tosses and free throw shooting contests during play stoppages.

Neighborhood 2

Bryant University is located in Smithfield, RI, a Providence suburb about a twenty-minute drive from downtown. Although Smithfield is a very nice place to live, it’s certainly not a destination location, and there is not much to see or do in the immediate vicinity of the Bryant campus. Fans interested in other sporting venues at Bryant University will find Bierne Stadium, home of the football team and Conaty Park, home of the baseball team, nearby.

Dining options near Bryant University are few. J’s Deli serves up an impressive variety of grinders (that’s what we call submarine sandwiches in these parts). Parente’s and Blackie’s are popular local spots offering traditional neighborhood pub grub. Several national chain restaurants and shopping options are located about a 10-minute drive away on Route 44. Fans visiting from out of town should take the 20-minute drive to Providence, which has no shortage of top-notch restaurants.

The same can be said for lodging options in Smithfield. There are a few decent options on Douglas Pike near campus, but visitors may be better served to check out Providence or Boston for places to stay or things to do. Twin Rivers Casino is in nearby Lincoln. If spending time in a casino is on your agenda, the twin resorts of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are located an hour away over the Connecticut state line.

Fans 2

Bryant averages about 750 fans per game at the Chace Athletic Center, up slightly from previous seasons but still below the Northeast Conference average. The crowd consists mainly of locals and families. There is not a huge turnout by the student body and no cohesive student section at Bulldog games.

Access 4

Bryant University is located in Smithfield, Rhode Island, 13 miles from downtown Providence. The campus is most easily accessed by car. Visitors to Bryant will simply take exit 15B off Interstate 295. The campus is just over a mile away from the Interstate on Route 7.

Fans using public transportation to arrive at Bryant will find a Rhode Island Public Transportation (RIPTA) bus station on the Bryant campus. The number 50 bus offers service every 40 minutes to downtown Providence. T.F. Green Airport is 20 miles away, with Boston’s Logan Airport an hour’s drive away. Train service to the area is provided by Amtrak, which has its downtown Providence station 20 minutes away.

The gym at the Chace Wellness and Athletic Center is just one of many features of the complex, which also contains a pool, aerobics studio and the Bryant Athletic Hall of Fame. Championship trophies and banners are scattered throughout the building’s lobby. In the hallway directly outside the gym are a concession stand and rest rooms. With the typical small crowds at Bulldog games, lines are not usually an issue.

Seating at the CAC is located on either side of the gym, with no seats on the ends. One side of the gym has individual stadium seats (the installation of these seats for the 2018-19 season actually decreased capacity by 600) while the other has molded bleachers without backs. With the small size of the CAC gym, all seats have excellent views of the action. Scoreboards on either end of the gym display basic game stats.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets to Bryant basketball games are sold as general admission tickets for twelve dollars. Premium seats are priced at $16. Seniors and youth are admitted for six dollars.

With free parking and inexpensive concessions, a trip to the Chace Athletic Center is an affordable entertainment option for Rhode Island sports fans.


Extras 2

The Bryant Athletic Hall of Fame is located in the lobby of the Chace Athletic Center. In addition to trophy cases that display the hardware garnered by Bulldog squads over the years, there is an interactive electronic display for fans to check out.

Banners hanging inside the CAC gym and in the main lobby honor Bryant tournament appearances and conference championship teams in all sports.

Final Thoughts

In tiny Rhode Island, Providence College basketball is king and University of Rhode Island basketball is a solid second. Bryant University offers a more intimate, affordable gameday experience than their two Ocean State neighbors. Small gyms like the Chace Athletic Center offer hoops fans an alternative to big-time college basketball and have a charm all their own.

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