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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Chace Athletic Center - Bryant Bulldogs


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

Chace Athletic Center

1150 Douglas Turnpike Smithfield, RI 02917



Year Opened: 2001 Capacity: 2,000

 

Thrill of the Chace

 

The Elizabeth and Malcolm Chace Wellness and Athletic Center is a multi-purpose arena on the Bryant University campus in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Constructed in 2001, the facility was dedicated in honor of the Chaces in 2003 for their support of many financial initiatives at the school, from scholarships to senior class gifts and facility funding as Bryant expanded. Today the Center serves as home to the Bryant Bulldogs men’s and women’s basketball, swimming 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.

 

The Bulldogs moved to the America East Conference beginning with the 2022-2023 season. Bryan has qualified for one NCAA tournament, in 2022. The qualified for seven NCAA Tournaments while competing in Division Two, reaching the title game in 2005.

 

Food & Beverage 1

 

There is a small concession stand just outside the gym which offers a limited menu. Coca-Cola products, popcorn and a selection of snacks are sold here. In the past hot dogs and pizza slices were also sold but were not available on the night of Stadium Journey’s visit.

 

Atmosphere 3


The Chace Center is pretty typical of the smaller college basketball gyms that dot the landscape throughout the country. When a capacity crowd is present, this place can get LOUD. Even when the Chace Center is not fully packed, all the elements are here for a good time.

 

Fans who have not visited Bryant in a few years will immediately notice the new video boards that have been installed at either end of the court. These boards are put to great use with videos, replays, graphics and game information.

 

The Bryant pep band takes their place at the top of the bleachers on the west side of the gym, filling the gym with music. There are cheerleaders and a dance squad who perform throughout the game, as well as a mascot who roams the center interacting with fans. The PA announcer does his best to keep the energy level up, keeping his volume at 11 no matter what is going on in the game. During play stoppages fans take the court for shooting contests for prizes. A Bryant game can be a fun experience for visiting fans.

 



Neighborhood 3

 

Bryant University is located in Smithfield, RI, about a twenty-minute drive from Providence. Although Smithfield is a very nice place to live, it’s certainly not a destination location. The area near campus has built up a bit over the years, with a few choices for visiting fans who prefer to stay local.

 

There are a few dining options right near the Bryant campus on Route 7. Parente’s Restaurant, Blackies, and Laura’s Bar and Grill are popular spots. Stadium Journey recommends J’s Deli for their impressive variety of great grinders (that’s what we call sub sandwiches here in Rhode Island). Several national chain restaurants and shopping options are located about a 10-minute drive away on Route 44. Fans visiting from out of town may opt to take the 20-minute drive to Providence, which has no shortage of top-notch restaurants and lodging options.

 

Speaking of lodging options, the story here is similar if visiting Bryant. There is a Holiday Inn Express, a Hampton Inn and Suites and a SureStay Plus right near campus, but visitors may opt to stay in nearby Providence or even Boston, only an hour’s drive to the north. Twin Rivers Casino is in nearby Lincoln just a few minutes from Bryant. If spending time in a casino is on your agenda, the twin resorts of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are located an hour away just over the Connecticut state line.

 

Fans 3

 

Bryant averages about 1,000 fans per game at the Chace Athletic Center, just below the average for the America East conference. Bryant is slowly carving out a niche as a solid third option in the Rhode Island college basketball scene, behind Providence College and the University of Rhode Island.

 

The fans who fill the Chace Athletic Center consist mainly of local hoops fans and alumni. With Bryant’s affordable pricing, it’s not unusual to see many families filling the stands here. The student section can be hit or miss, depending on the opponent, Bryant’s record, and the day of the week. The student section, which can be loud and salty at times, tends to empty out quickly after halftime. Despite Bryant’s reputation, this is not a hostile place for visiting fans.

 



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, offering 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 Athletics Hall of Fame. Championship trophies and banners are scattered throughout the building’s lobby. In the hallway directly outside the gym are the concession stand and rest rooms. Lines can form at halftime, but are generally not an issue.

 

The seating areas at the CAC are located on either side of the gym, with no seats on the ends. One side of the gym has individual stadium seats, while the other has molded bleachers without backs. With the small size of the CAC gym, all seats have excellent views of the action.

 

Return on Investment 4

 

There is a two-tiered pricing system at Bryant basketball games. Bleacher seats are sold for $15, with chairback seating priced at $25. 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 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 is carving out a niche in the area with a more intimate, affordable gameday experience than their two Ocean State neighbors.

 

 

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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