October 22, 2011
Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium (Capacity: 13,100)
Bucknell Bison vs Holy Cross Crusaders
Final Score: 13 – 16
On a chilly, cloudy late October day it was off to the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania for a stadium doubleheader starting in Lewisburg for a Bucknell football game. The small, Liberal Arts school is private and a very good one. After coming to see Sojka Pavilion and Bison basketball a few years ago, this was my second visit into the area. The Bison don’t exactly have the success that the school’s basketball team does as they have won only one Patriot League title and that came nearly 15 years ago. Their home is Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium, a venue built in 1924, renovated in 1989 and named after the famous Bucknell Alum who went on to become one of the first members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Prestige Ranking: 1 out of 5
Lewisburg is a quaint, charming borough of only 5,660 that sits along the West branch of the Susquehanna River. While the small town will of course lack in tourist attractions, many will find centralized Market Street as a wonderful road to stroll and grab a bite to eat, like at the Lewisburg Hotel. Campus is not far away and you could even take a long walk there from downtown. The stadium is located on the South end of a hill that splits the campus.
Location Ranking: 6.5 out of 10
Accessibility / Parking
From points north, it is very easy to get to as Rt. 15 South is only about seven miles from I-80. Anyone arriving from the Mid-Atlantic will find a longer ride as they need to get off the Interstate well before hand as they snake along the river-following route. For parking, I had a much easier time at the basketball game as football has a huge parking issue. There are no signs and nobody directing, so for a first-time visitor, you’re on your own. Even online parking directions are no help as the map just shows where various tailgates are located. I drove around and parked behind fraternity row and that seemed to be ok. This was on a day where the stadium was not close to half-full, so I can’t imagine where people would go or get around on a full day.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 4.5 out of 8
The Stadium has a short brick wall as its exterior design is flat and is offset by white arches. At the end of the wall “Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium” is written at the top in small black lettering. A tiny ticket office is located in this area, along with the main gate. The other side has a less frequently used gate, while the ends of the stadium are open here.
Exterior Ranking: 4 out of 10
Concourse and Food
There really isn’t a concourse as fans get to their seats by walking along the track and then up stairs to sections of the seating. Despite the lack of a designated concourse, the whole area was easy to maneuver and you never lost sight of the field (plus there were a couple decorative plaques, see “Displays”). A building in each North-side corner of the stadium provides the food and restrooms (which were surprisingly spacious and able to accommodate the crowd at the half). Food items were basic, though it was great to see a soup of the day on the menu, which came in handy in the 50-degree weather. The only unique item was a pulled-pork sandwich, which I got and it was gross. I threw it away and had a much better tasting hot dog.
Concourse Ranking: 2 out of 5
Food Ranking: 3 out of 8
The surrounding track keeps the seats a little further from the action and the bowl is designed as a one-level partial horseshoe. Seats are mostly bleachers that have an odd look as the ones nearest to the main entrance are cleaner while further away towards the South end zone, it looks like the concrete that the bleachers are set on need a good scrubbing. In between is reserved seating with small individual seats in blue. I should emphasize small as they were a tight squeeze, almost not even worth leaving the bleachers. A walkway at the top of the seating surrounds much of the stadium. The nicest part at Christy-Mathewson Memorial Stadium is the South end zone where the partial horseshoe had its seats removed for crafty landscaping that has BUCKNELL spelled out in the shrubs. The other end zone is open and full with kids’ activities like a bounce house and a slide. A small press box is located on the West sideline and its white face has the Bison logo along with a Bucknell script. The outside view is pleasant with some trees overhanging along with views of the surrounding campus buildings.
Interior Ranking: 5 out of 14
A small, light blue scoreboard is located above the end-zone landscaping and features just the necessary game info. What looked liked a graphics board for text above the score information remained blank through the game. I was surprised to only see a play clock at the other endzone and not one for the game-time too.
Scoreboard Ranking: 0.5 out of 4
Great job by Bucknell recognizing various people throughout the stadium. It starts by a stand-alone plaque of Christy Mathewson that is in full view as you enter. To the left on a wall is an honor to all those from Bucknell who served in World War II. Lastly, three plaques in the landscaped end zone recognize famous Bison coaches: Sidney Jamieson, Bob Odell and Tom Gadd. There was a nice display of achievements located along a fence in the back edge of North end zone. White, rectangular boards displayed such achievements like Presidents Cups and Patriot League championships in Track and Field, Lacrosse and Football. Also I liked the recognition of the 1997 football team that went 10-1 and set a school record for wins. The only bad thing was that many of these banners were obstructed by the inflatable games and rides for the kids.
Displays Ranking: 4.5 out of 6
A Bucknell football game is very affordable with a reserved seat going for $10 and general admission running $8. Parking was free and the programs were $3. Concessions were cheap too ($4 for a cheeseburger, $1.50 for a bottled water).
Cost Ranking: 8 out of 8
There was a cluster of fans in the West side stands towards the middle of the field, otherwise it was mostly empty. Announced paid attendance of 6,734 looked much more like 2,000 actual people. In the last few years, they have ranked at the bottom of the Patriot League, just above Georgetown.
Fan Support Ranking: 2 out of 8
Unfortunately, there was a lack of enthusiasm at the game and it was experienced throughout the event. It started when the PA announcer seemed to go through the motions as he read off information to outgoing Seniors on their last home game. Cheerleaders also didn’t really seem to care as those seniors walked out. Fans generated some noise during scoring plays, but other than that, it was quiet. The sound was pretty much the same on a huge 3rd down play late in the game with Bucknell on defense and down by 3 than it was for any other play. It was nice to see a pep band and though they did a decent job, they don’t need to play something after every single play. Occasionally, the cheerleaders and pep band would do their “Ray, Bucknell” cheer. So far, Patriot League rivals Lehigh and Lafayette have had much better atmosphere’s in the games that I attended there.
Atmosphere Ranking: 3 out of 14
There was no design on the football field which was disappointing, only Bucknell was spelled out at the bottom of each 30-yard line….Special thanks to Eric McCabe on the visit!
This was a defensive battle and an interesting game. After Bucknell took the early lead with a field goal, Holy Cross answered with a touchdown to go up 7-3. Eventually, the Crusaders would take a 13-6 lead going into halftime, but the big play was a blocked extra point. This enabled the Bison to tie the game on a Tyler Smith 1-yard touchdown run. HC would kick a field goal and go up by three. Then it was all defense. Bucknell would get seven more possessions and they could not even get into field goal range. Six of those possessions ended in punts and then the last one was a loss of downs as Holy Cross hung on for the tight win. Between the two teams, there was a total of 12 sacks, 4 fumbles and 3 interceptions. Bucknell only managed 146 yards of offense and 8 first downs. The Crusaders’ Ryan Taggert went 32 for 58 with 380 yards, 2 TD and 3 INT.