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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Sojka Pavilion – Bucknell Bison


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Sojka Pavilion 701 Moore Avenue Lewisburg, PA 17837


Bucknell Bison website

Sojka Pavilion website


Year Opened: 2003

Capacity: 4,000

 

The Orange Menace of Sojka

The Bucknell Bison men’s basketball team has been the most successful in the Patriot League over the past few years. The Bison won at least a share of the regular season title all but one season between 2011 and 2019. They won the conference tournament four times during that period and nearly pulled off a couple of upsets over high seeds in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Bison’s biggest moment in March came in 2005, when as a 14-seed, they shocked national powerhouse Kansas 64-63 in the First Round in a stunning upset.


The Bison play their home games at Sojka Pavilion, which opened in January 2003. Sojka (pronounced Soy-ka) is a 4,000-seat arena that is named for former university president Gary Allan Sojka. It is part of the Kenneth Langone Athletics & Recreation Center, which also includes a swimming pool, fitness center, and Davis Gym, the former home of Bison basketball which now hosts the wrestling team.


Food & Beverage 3

Sojka Pavilion has two concession stands on the concourse which serves pretty average fare at affordable prices. Options for meals include hot dogs ($3), hamburgers ($4.75, or $5.25 with cheese), veggie burgers ($4.75), and chicken tenders ($6). Buffalo sauce is available at a table next to the concession stand with the other condiments, so you can make your buffalo tenders if you want.


Sides include French fries ($3.25), soft pretzels ($2.50), nachos ($3.50), chips ($1), candy ($1.75), and popcorn ($2.50). Cheese can be added to the fries and pretzels for 50 cents extra. Each Bucknell venue has its signature item, and Sojka is no exception. The Bison basket costs $6.75 and contains beer-battered French fries, bacon, scallions, ranch dressing, and hot sauce.


Drinks include Powerade and bottled water for $2.25, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for $2, and soda for $2.75-$3.25. Combos are also available to add to the already excellent value.


Atmosphere 5

When you enter the arena, you will be in the lower lobby of the Langone Center. Depending on which entrance you use, you may have to head down a hallway to get to the lower lobby of Sojka itself. From there, you have to walk or take an elevator up to the concourse. All seats in Sojka Pavilion are chairbacks except for a few bleachers behind the baskets.


Several scoreboards are scattered throughout the arena and each one is somewhat different. There is a center-hung scoreboard that also shows timeouts and team fouls and a smaller scoreboard in one corner which shows more basic information. There are also video boards in two corners that show player stats and rotating team stats, but oddly enough, not the score, plus another player stats board behind one basket.


Bucknell has contests and promotions during almost every timeout, but the real atmosphere attraction here is the pep band. They play before and throughout the game and are among the very best at this level. Although they may be small in number, they are certainly mighty. The Bison also have cheerleaders and a costumed bison mascot named Bucky.


Neighborhood 3

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania may be in the middle of nowhere, but that does not mean there is nothing to do here. Your best bet heading out of the arena is to head north into town on Route 15. Reba & Pancho’s on West Market Street is a local favorite, as is the 7th Street Café, which is exactly where you’d expect it to be. There are also more options just across the Susquehanna River in Milton.


Fans 4

Bison fans show up in good numbers for their team, wear orange, and make noise. Although the team doesn’t always sell out the arena, they often come close. Fans are loud, passionate, and knowledgeable, and cheer their team throughout the game. That being said, they’re not afraid to get on their case when the team is doing poorly. As the Bison have been successful for many years, they have gained a larger and larger following among the locals.


Access 1

The one major downside of Sojka Pavilion is access. Just getting to campus in the first place is a challenge, as it is far removed from the nearest major cities. Harrisburg is the nearest city of any decent size and is over an hour away. Scranton is two hours, and Philadelphia is two and a half. Unless you’re a local, you’re going to have to drive quite a way.


Once you finally make it to campus, parking is a challenge. No signs or directions are telling you where to park, and while there are a few spaces close to the arena, most likely you’re going to have to park in a more distant lot. There are shuttles available, but unless one is ready and waiting, there’s no indication of that.


The challenges don’t end there. The Langone Center has numerous entrances and it’s not readily apparent which one to use. Making matters worse, some of the entrances can be locked while others aren’t, meaning fans may have to walk around the building to find an open door. Depending on where you managed to make it, you might have to walk through the building to get to the lobby after you get in.


One entrance is signed as the Event Entrance, but the sign isn’t visible until you get close, the door is sometimes locked, and other entrances will also put you directly in the Sojka lobby, assuming they’re open.


It should not be nearly this complicated and confusing to make it to a basketball game, and while Bucknell can’t do anything about its remote location, the rest of the issues need to be fixed.


Return on Investment 4

Tickets to a Bison basketball game are $15 for adults, $8 for children under 18, and $10 for seniors. Although this is on the high end for the Patriot League, this is also one of the nicest venues in the conference. Throw in the affordable concessions and free, if confusing parking and there is good value here.


Extras 5

There are many extras here at Sojka Pavilion. The rafters are almost filled with banners honoring the Bison’s athletic success. There are murals and retired numbers displayed on the concourse. The breezeway to the lower lobby has a display honoring Bucknell's athletic greats of years past. One final star here for the outstanding pep band.



Final Thoughts

Sojka Pavilion is one of the top basketball venues in the Patriot League. Whether it’s the fans packing the building, the fantastic pep band, or all the displays honoring Bucknell athletics, this is an experience not to be missed for basketball fans in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, getting to the arena can be a huge challenge for many reasons, some within the school’s control, some not, but once you’re here, you won’t regret it.



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