UB Stadium – Buffalo Bulls
Once they were ranked 119. At the time, it was the worst ranking possible in all of Division IA football. The Sports Illustrated annual preseason ranking didn’t leave much hope for the program, either that year or too far into the future. The Buffalo Bulls were perennial NCAA Mid-American Conference doormats and it didn’t look like that was going to change any time soon. However, UB was thankful to be back into the game. Football began at Buffalo all the way back in 1894. However, the student body of the State University of New York at Buffalo voted to stop funding the football program and in 1970 and football disappeared. The Bulls would return to football in 1977 and play at the Division III level until 1992. Commitment was made to move the team up to the top division and that journey was completed in 1999 when Buffalo joined the Mid America Conference.
Coinciding with the move up to Division I was the opening of UB Stadium. nestled neatly on the North Campus in the town of Amherst, New York, UB Stadium has been the home to football as well as other UB programs including track and field and soccer. Still the Bulls failed to really put a strong product on the field and the bottom of the MAC was practically owned by Buffalo. Key recruits in the late 2000’s including Drew Willy and James Starks along with head coach Turner Gill would turn the Bulls fortunes around. The Bulls success would culminate in their 2008 MAC Championship and a birth in the International Bowl, their first bowl appearance. Since that season the Bulls have been up and down but are no longer synonymous with the basement.
Concession selections at UB Stadium are fairly pedestrian. There is not too much to get fans overly excited about the culinary experience. UB Stadium is basically made up of the main concessions along with a few mobile stands. The main stands feature Pizza ($4.75), burgers, hot dogs ($3), nachos, pretzels, popcorn ($3.50), sausages and grilled chicken. Probably not the greatest selection for fans. However, for fans that absolutely require to get something at the game, a Buffalo staple, Beef on Weck is available at the Red Osier stand.
Soda selections feature Pepsi selections. Other options include Gatorade, water, coffee and hot chocolate. There is no alcohol available at regular concessions.
For fans heading to UB Stadium a couple of things to keep in mind. First, only the main concession stands offer the ability to pay with debit or credit. Mobile stands, including the Red Osier stand, are cash only. Second, for fans that are not jazzed about the options inside the stadium, perhaps it is best to grab something outside the stadium. Food Truck Row is an option for fans before heading in and the selection is far better than inside the stadium.
UB Stadium is by no means the greatest football structure going. Fans will approach most likely from the southwest corner. Pre-game festivities can be found in the lot to the southwest of the stadium known as Stampede Square. A large inflatable gate welcomes fans and is about as close to a main entrance as there is at UB Stadium.
The design of UB Stadium is rather disjointed. Built originally as two main grandstands along the east and west sides of the north-south oriented field, UB Stadium has been expanded with seating in the end zones. It is clear that the extra seating in the end zone is unnecessary as there are nowhere near enough fans to warrant expansion. The east and west grandstands are large, concrete behemoths which seem, somehow to have more structure than seating. There is not too much to make UB stadium stand out and it is pretty plain even compared to other MAC venues. Metal Benches are throughout the stadium and the perfect picture of the logo at the fifty yard line is going to come from the west grandstand. The field features a synthetic surface and an eight lane track keeps the stands rather far from the field. The Football Centre entrance does feature large posters advertising the few historic moments in Bulls history. Those include their MAC Championship in 2008 and birth in the International Bowl. Their Bowl appearances are few, but featured with the 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl joining the International Bowl. Khalil Mack, the Bull taken highest in the NFL Draft also has a large display. A poster honouring UB legend Willie Evans and his dedication to the Bulls program during and after his tenure as a player is also very interesting. Finally, Buffalo’s The refusal to play in the 1958 Tangerine Bowl, a team that featured Evans, due to racial tensions is also featured outside the Football Centre. There are no featured or retired numbers within view from the grandstands save for the number 41 which is emblazoned on both sidelines. The number is immortalized on the field for former Bull Solomon Jackson who unexpectedly died in 2016.
Buffalo does its best to offer a top notch game day experience. The Stampede Square tailgate area is a good spot to be pregame and they even offer a concert series to bring in more fans. On the game that was reviewed, the feature act was Better Than Ezra. The Bulls mascot, Victor E. Bull makes his way around the field and throughout the stands. The Bulls’ cheerleaders do their part leading the crowd in cheers and performing gymnastic stunts. Finally, the Buffalo marching band, Thunder of the East is very good and cements that college feel to the GameDay festivities. They play throughout the game and are not forced to compete with the PA music. The Bulls enter the field through a community outreach high five line and the highlight of defensive drives is the playing of Hell’s Bells on third downs.
UB Stadium is located on the southeast corner of the University at Buffalo North Campus in the town of Amherst. The campus is rather large and the location of the stadium itself precludes much in the way of neighborhood attractions within walking distance.
As far as pre and post game fare goes, heading just off campus is the best bet. Just west of campus, on Sweet Home Road is the Blue Bull Tavern. It features all sorts of UB paraphernalia. Other options in that immediate vicinity include Papi Grande’s Mexican Restaurant, Zetti’s Pizza and Pasta and Santora’s Pizza Pub & Grill. Maple Street in Amherst features a ton of familiar franchise restaurants. For fans that are looking for something unique to the locale, perhaps the Anchor Bar, birthplace of the Buffalo Wing, is the place to stop.
There are not many attractions to satisfy fans in the Town of Amherst. The Boulevard Mall is not too far away and there are a number of nature trails close to campus. On the opposite side Millersport Highway is the Audubon Town Park and Amherst Audubon Golf Course. As limiting as Amherst may seem, it is a very short drive into the City of Buffalo and major tourist centers in Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario.
As for sporting options, there are a ton. Right on campus, UB offers other college options, the most prominent of which is basketball at Alumni Arena. Other closeby college basketball options include Canisius Golden Griffins and the Niagara Purple Eagles. Both schools also participate in Division I hockey. A short trip to Orchard Park will bring fans to New Era Field, home of the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. Downtown Buffalo houses KeyBank Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL and the Buffalo Bandits of the NLL. A couple blocks away from KeyBank Center is Coca-Cola Field, home of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
Fans needing to stay near the UB Campus will not have a problem finding accommodations. Comfort Inn, Red Roof Plus+, Marriott and Doubletree are all a very short drive south of the Stadium
Buffalo Bulls fans have shown a huge improvement to coincide with the improvement of the program over the last 15 years. UB Stadium usually averages over 17,000 fans for a home game. That definitely ranks in the bottom portion of the NCAA when compared to massive Power 5 schools. However, the number of fans that turn out to support the Bulls is not out of character for the conference. UB Stadium is definitely too huge for the number of fans supporting the team, but the fans that show up are a hearty group and are engaged in the game day festivities. Unlike many other programs, Bulls supporters are not over the top and more on the relaxed side. A nice feature at Buffalo is the proximity of the student section to the field. The student section is on the 50 yard line on the east grandstand and close to the field. Fans interact with the players before and after the game and players make a point of heading over to the student section.
UB Stadium is located at the southeast corner of the university’s north campus. Getting to campus is pretty easy as it is just east of the I-990 and I-290 junction and just north of I-90. Getting a parking spot is also pretty easy as there is plenty of free parking on campus, just a short walk from the stadium. There are plenty of attendants around to help direct traffic to an appropriate spot.
For fans who require public transportation, there are buses that travel on Augspurger Road and Millersport Highway with stops close to UB Stadium. Check out the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority website for fares, maps and schedules.
The ticketing office is at the southwest corner of the stadium and is quite large, with little no no lineups most of the time.
Getting around the stadium can be a little bit of a challenge. Entering the west side of the stadium requires patrons to climb a fair number of stairs. Getting through the concourses is no problem given the average number of fans that attend games. The washroom facilities are also adequate in relation to the average crowd.
Return on Investment 4
Bringing the family out to a Bulls football game results in great return on your investment. Tickets for the Bulls will usually run around $30 or less. There are plenty of available options as far as different seating goes. Parking on campus is free and concession prices are pretty decent. The tailgate concert at Stampede Square can cost an extra ticket. The beauty of Bulls football is the MAC experience, which offers a terrifically underrated product on the field. The Bulls’ improvement in recent years is testament to that. The game that was reviewed ended after seven overtime sessions!
An extra mark for the Buffalo Bulls improvement that they have shown on the field. There is no question that the improvement on the field is directly linked to the improvement in football experience.
An extra mark for the improved gameday experience including the tailgate concert series.
An extra mark for the 1958 Buffalo Bulls and their ability to do the right thing in refusing to play in the Tangerine Bowl.
The Buffalo Bulls experience has definitely improved over time. Coinciding with their improvement on the field, it is easy to say that the Bulls are no longer the basement of the NCAA. Their improvement has breathed new life into the program and made the experience much more enjoyable. Checking out UB Stadium and the Buffalo Bulls for some MACtion is an experience fans won’t regret.
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These days, the lesser programs in college football are mostly ignored by the big media outlets, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored by sports travelers. The Buffalo Bulls are a good example of a college that gets little press but provides a great afternoon of football. Certainly the stadium has its flaws, but overall you should really enjoy an afternoon at UB Stadium.