Buffalo Bison players are happily now only 160 k (100 m) or a quick 1.5 hours drive away from the major leagues. The new Triple-A minor
Blue Jays affiliate plays in their smart downtown digs, Coca-Cola Field, an economical and aesthetic treat. I sit behind home plate with a superb view, the park's most expensive ticket valued at $12 versus Rogers "Premium Dugout" version at $73!
Public parking on Washington Street near Division (two short blocks away) is a mere $3.00, but we fare much better with free street parking after 5 pm. And compared to Rogers $5 for a bottle of water and a Bud at close to $10 for a tall can, Coca-Cola offers a craft beer stand at the Swan Street entrance where one pays $6.75 for myriad tasty NYS microbrews. In the stands, a Bud or a Blue costs $6.
At Rogers in Toronto, a boiled hot dog with no special toppings costs $5 whereas Buffalo's famous thick-sliced beef on wick is $7.50. At Rogers, for a mere $800, you can purchase a broken
bat. At Coca-Cola, upon entry, fans are presented with a complimentary team photo.
In Buffalo, it's a short walk to your seat, and the stadium offers great sight lines, fans situated so close to the action that one can almost smell the grass. The huge Jumbotron scoreboard in centre field lists each player's stats, and thereby makes a printed program redundant. Kids (and there are many) enjoy the hi-jinks between innings especially a race around the field between mascots dressed as vegetables.
reminds us, the child is father of the man, so the results at both parks are similar, the Bisons losing 5-2 to
when we visit. However,
Coca-Cola Field is family-friendly with many food options, clean bathrooms, cheap tickets, the ability to sit wherever you like, and don't forget the "Craft Beer Corner" offering no less than 12 different brews including Long Trail, Brooklyn, Flying Bison, Saranac, Ithaca Flower Power and others.
Mark a Bisons' game on next season's calendar, and make a day of it. We explore Buffalo's rapidly developing "Canalside" District on the waterfront (free parking) and take an informative, 90-minute
Buffalo River History Tour
that traces Buffalo's past to its glory days in the 1830s as the western terminus of the
which made it a key transportation, milling, heavy industry and distribution centre for the entire eastern seaboard, particularly NYC.
Food options are abundant; we recommend two. We lunch at the Liberty Hound at the Canalside District which offers an amazing 750 events ranging from outdoor yoga to crafts for kids to free Thursday concerts by national rock acts. The breezy restaurant sits adjacent to the
Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park
that includes a museum and three ships - a guided missile cruiser, destroyer and WWII submarine.
The Lobster Cobb and Tuscan Tuna salads served up by Executive Chef Antonio Martina are delicious accompanied by Oskar Blues Mama's Lil Yella Pils, a tasty Czech style pilsner and New Zealand Kato Sauvignon Blanc, perfect on a warm day.
For supper, we dine at the Pan-American Grill & Brewery, part of the Hotel @ the Lafayette, a $43 million restoration project of an historic downtown building that exudes the elegance and stylishness of the early 1900s. My spouse tries the City of Light Lager, a pale German brew and I opt for The Terminator, a light-bodied, hoppy American Pale Ale. We share a light beet salad; she opts for the Pan-seared Salmon and I order the Seafood and Sausage Jambalaya. For desert, we share a decadent slice of Key Lime Pie. Yum!
The hotel features 115 apartments, 34 boutique hotel rooms, a steakhouse, bakery and flower shop. Inside there's a huge portrait of
who was inaugurated as the 26th President right here in Buffalo. From the restaurant, it's an easy 5-minute walk to the baseball park.
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, the largest in Upstate New York. Buffalo itself has a population of 261,310 (2010 Census) and the Buffalo-Niagara-Cattaraugus Combined Statistical Area is home to 1,215,826 residents.