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  • Andrew Kulyk

Koessler Athletic Center – Canisius Golden Griffins

Photos Courtesy of Canisius Golden Griffins Athletics

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Koessler Athletic Center 1829 Main St. Buffalo, NY 14208

Year Opened: 1968

Capacity: 2,176


A Golden Opportunity for College Hoops

It’s kind of old school, but it’s been given a much needed facelift. The Koessler Athletic Center, located on the edge of the urban Canisius College campus, is the home of Canisius Golden Griffins basketball. The facility also contains a gymnasium, swimming pool, weight room and other athletic training facilities.

Opened in 1968, the arena underwent renovations to install chairback seating, new lighting, dot matrix scoreboards, sound system and refurbished floor. With a seating capacity of 2,196, it is one of the more intimate settings in all of division one basketball, with a feel of an old-school college or high school gym.

The Griffins have appeared in four NCAA Tournaments in school history that have resulted in a 6-4 record: 1955, 1956, 1957, and 1996. The 1950’s team were by far the most successful squad making it into the regional semifinals and finals for three straight seasons. The school did return to glory capturing the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season title in 2018.

Food & Beverage 2

Concessions aren’t exactly the strong suit here, as there is but one comfort station offering the very basics in stadium fare. A slice of pizza, nachos, pretzel or popcorn will run $2, a hot dog $3, and bottled soft drinks or iced tea $2. The prices, though, are about as low as you will find at any venue at this level. Alcoholic beverages are not sold here. So if you’re looking for culinary delights or that specialty sandwich, try elsewhere before or after the game.

Atmosphere 3

The first time patron will immediately feel and sense the intimacy of the place. Regulars and season ticket holders seem to know each other and the staffers who run the place on a first named basis. There is but one narrow aisle to get to one’s seat, and that is on the hardwood directly behind the media or scorers tables, so one can’t help but brush by the players and coaches. The end zone bleachers are saved for the students, and when they are full, the kids almost spill out onto the court and their presence is immediately felt. Add the Griffs mascot and the freshly scrubbed cheerleaders, who practically mingle into the stands, and it is a party with 2000 of your best friends.

Neighborhood 4

The Canisius campus straddles Main Street, and almost sits on the boundary of one of the most opulent areas of the city- where the historic Forest Lawn cemetery and the Olmsted Parks system abuts some of the nicest neighborhoods and mansions. Travel a few blocks east and you’ll happen upon some of Buffalo’s most distressed neighborhoods. The neighborhood around Koessler itself is safe and clean, but nothing much to find in terms of walkable shops or bistros. Recommendations are up and down the Main Street corridor – southward hit up the famous Anchor Bar, birthplace of the chicken wing, or the Oakk Room, with its specialty martinis. Northward try the Central Park Grill, with hearty tavern food, or farther up yet the Lake Effect Diner.

Fans 3

The regulars are what make the place. You’ll spot notable Canisius alums and former basketball greats from the Griffs who are still into the game and team and let their voices be heard. Chances are if you’re a newbie here who looks out of place someone will greet you and introduce themselves and make you feel welcome. The team draws fairly well, but with such a small venue capacity, it is not that hard to fill the place.

Access 4

The Koessler Center is located right on the corner of Main Street and E/W Delavan, less than a mile south of the Main Street exit off the Scajaquada Expressway (rte 198). On campus parking is close by and free. On street parking in the neighborhood is also ample and free.

Fans wishing to use public transportation can take the Metrorail, which runs from the First Niagara Center downtown all the way north to the SUNY Buffalo south campus. Exit at the Delavan/College station, which is right across the street from the Center.

Return on Investment 4

Reserved (chairback seats) run $15. General Admission tickets, which include end zone seating run $10. Cheap eats. Free parking. Enough said.

Extras 3

The entrance lobby and exterior concourse of the Koessler Center has seen huge upgrades, including a Hall of Fame which will also see some interactive elements. Very nicely done and deserving of a 2 star bonus.

Add one star for the rivalry with Niagara University, their MAAC foe just 25 miles to the north of Buffalo in Lewiston, New York. These two schools battle it out for bragging rights in this region. It’s good fun and great to watch.

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