Waldo Stadium – Western Michigan Broncos
Boating with the Broncos
Waldo Stadium was built in 1939, and has been home to Western Michigan University’s football team ever since. The stadium currently has a capacity of 30,200, which is exactly the same capacity as in-state rival Eastern Michigan’s Rynearson Stadium.
The Seelye Center, which sits in the northeast end zone at Waldo Stadium, was added in 2003, and includes an indoor practice facility, weight rooms, offices, and some suites. The main scoreboard above the southwest end zone was also added in 2003, while the two video boards on either side of the Seelye Center were added in 2014-2015, during the most recent set of renovations here.
‘Row the Boat’ is the mantra of the WMU Broncos, brought in by their new coach and popularized since then, so you will see those words dotted around the field, and be reminded of it when the team enters the field carrying giant oars. ‘Row the boat’ is all about keeping your oars in the water and moving forward.
Food & Beverage 4
Waldo Stadium offers your typical stadium fare, most of which is available at all of their main stands. There are a couple of items, however, that are only available in certain locations. Food items range in price from $2 to $7, while drinks cost $3-$4.
Food selections include hot dogs, burgers, BBQ chicken sandwiches, mac and cheese, and two kinds of nachos, as well as soft pretzels, popcorn, Sun chips, boxed candy, cinnamon-glazed or chocolate-covered nuts, and cotton candy. The most difficult items to find are the soft pretzels and the nuts; the nuts are only sold at specialty kiosks, of which there are only two in the stadium (near the end zones), while the soft pretzels are only available at a couple of the main stands.
Drink options include bottled soda (Pepsi products), bottled water, Gatorade, coffee, and hot cocoa. There is no alcohol available in Waldo Stadium.
Waldo Stadium has seating on all 4 sides, with gaps in each corner. There are three scoreboards, two above the northeast end zone and one above the southwest end zone, so fans sitting anywhere in the stadium can see them easily. The big one is on the southwest side, the other two are smaller.
The staff does a lot of fun things to enhance the experience, the most memorable of which is having someone ride a horse onto the field before the team comes on. They also shoot off a howitzer after every score, which is located above the east corner if you want to snap a pic. They also have ‘Row the Boat’ signage all around the field, as well as other Broncos-themed signage such as ‘Welcome to Kalamazoo’ spelled out in front of the northwest stands.
The WMU band is probably one of the most active I have ever seen, with constant motion and dancing; before the game they spell out W-M-U facing both directions, so fans on either sideline can see it right-side up. This is really cool because most college bands will only do formations one way, so half the fans see it upside down. And the activity doesn’t stop there either; all throughout the game the band will dance and jump up and down in their seats, and will also do additional formations after a win.
Waldo Stadium is located near Western Michigan University’s main campus, and there are lots of great restaurants nearby. University Roadhouse and Waldo’s Tavern are great choices, both of which are within walking distance of the stadium. University Roadhouse offers burgers, pasta, seafood, and sandwiches, as well as drink specials every day of the week; Saturday’s special is $4 Long Island iced teas. Waldo’s Tavern, on the other hand, has typical bar food such as wings, burgers, and pizza, but also boasts cheap drinks.
If the college student scene isn’t your bent, however, a little further from the stadium you can find Eccentric Cafe and Kalamazoo Beer Exchange. Eccentric Cafe has local beers from Bell’s Brewery, located right here in Kalamazoo, while Kalamazoo Beer Exchange offers darts, pinball, and pool.
There are also several hotels in the area; Comfort Inn is the closest to Waldo Stadium, and has reasonable rates. If you are looking for something a little cheaper, however, Knights Inn is also close. And if you are going to be in town for the day or for the weekend, check out the Kalamazoo Valley Museum or the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts before or after the game.
Fans at Waldo Stadium make a lot of noise, but tend to arrive late and leave early; even 20 minutes after kickoff you will see long lines at the ticket windows outside the stadium. And after a win, when the band does their celebratory songs and maneuvers in appreciation of the fans, hardly anyone sticks around long enough to watch.
On the plus side, unlike many stadiums, you will hear just as much noise from the alums as from the students; the students sit along the northwest sideline, with the band, while alums sit on the southeast side under the press box. Both sides make plenty of noise during the game, and you will see lots of team gear in both areas; the two end zones will generally be deserted. At a typical game attendance runs between 15K and 20K, or about half to two-thirds full.
There are plenty of parking lots all around Waldo Stadium, some of which are reserved for pass holders; these tend to be on the front side along Michigan Avenue. The back side is where you want to be if you are paying cash, and you can park for just $10 within a few blocks of the stadium. There are gates all around the outside, so you can enter wherever you want, but note that will call is at Gate 1, next to the southwest end zone.
Once you get inside, moving around is fairly easy. The bathrooms are a bit dilapidated, but there are plenty of them, and there are concessions stands all over the place. There is also a walkway that connects the 4 sets of stand, so if your side is too crowded, or too loud, you can move around. There are no ramps into the stands that I saw, but those with special needs can sit in front of the walkway on any side, on little cutouts built for that purpose.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets at Waldo Stadium start at $20, and concessions and parking are on par with other small sports stadiums, so seeing a game here is a good value for the money. Tickets are just as cheap at the door as they are if you buy ahead, so you may as well wait; the stadium never sells out, which also means you can’t get tickets any cheaper from scalpers or re-sellers.
One unique thing about seeing a game here is that there is a railroad track on the front side, so you can actually sometimes see Amtrak trains going by during the game. They also play a lot of retro music during breaks in the action, which is a lot of fun to dance to.
Waldo Stadium is a great stadium to visit, and the Broncos are a pretty good team of late. The Broncos do play in the MAC, so you may not see a lot of big-name schools come here, but it is still a fun experience. The staff does a great job trying to make it fun, and all the decor will help get you into the Bronco spirit.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Comfort Inn Kalamazoo
739 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
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