Reliant Stadium (Houston Texans)
Photo courtesy of AP Images
The Skinny: Reliant Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium that, in addition to the Reliant Astrodome and other structures, makes up Reliant Park. The first NFL stadium with a retractable roof, Reliant Stadium plays host to the Houston Texans and has also hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII, US Men’s National Soccer matches, the Houston Bowl and the Texas Bowl, two Big XII Championship Games and the NCAA Tournament. In addition, the stadium will hold the 2011 Final Four.
Year Opened: 2002
Best Moment: September 8, 2002. The Texans played their inaugural game as a franchise and the first game at Reliant Stadium against the cross-state rival Dallas Cowboys. In front of 69,604 fans the Texans defeated the Cowboys 19-10.
Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros)
Photo courtesy of MLB.com
The Skinny: The downtown ballpark home of the Houston Astros features a retractable roof and is connected to the historic Union Station. The Astros estimate that 60 percent of their fans enter the park through Union Station, and the stadium features a replica 19th century locomotive as an homage to the Union Station site. The unique field sports “Tal’s Hill” a 30-degree uphill slope in the center field warning track.
Year Opened: 2000
Long games: In 2005, Minute Maid Park hosted the longest postseason game and the longest World Series games ever played. The longest game was an 18-inning, five hour and 50 minute victory for the Astros over the Atlanta Braves. Two weeks later, the Astros and Chicago White Sox battled to a 14-inning, five hour and 41 minute game that the White Sox won. It was the first World Series game played in the state of Texas.
Toyota Center (Houston Rockets)
The Skinny: Both the Houston Rockets and AHL Houston Aeros call the Toyota Center home. The arena has become a premiere venue for concerts and events as well, being named as a finalist for the “Best New Concert Venue” award by Pollstar Magazine in 2004.
Year Opened: 2003
Record Attendance: Houston Rockets fans packed the Toyota Center for Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers on May 14, 2009. The Rockets defeated the Lakers 95-80 behind a crowd of 18,501, setting the single-game record in the arena.
AT&T Center (San Antonio Spurs)
The Skinny: The arena opened prior to the 2002-03 NBA season as the home court of the San Antonio Spurs, who had been at the Alamodome since 1993. The stadiums also hosts the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars and the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, as well as high profile concerts, WWE events and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
Year Opened: 2002
Best Moment: Since moving to the AT&T Center, the San Antonio Spurs have clinched two NBA championships on their home court. In their first season at the arena, the Spurs won Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals over the New Jersey Nets. Two years later, the Spurs topped the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals, the first Game 7 since 1994.
Robertson Stadium (Houston Cougars and MLS Houston Dynamo)
Photo courtesy of UHCougars.com
The Skinny: Robertson Stadium opened in 1942 and has undergone several renovations since that point, most notably in 1999, when a $6M gift added 20 luxury suites and increased capacity to 32,000. Currently, the Houston Cougars and MLS Houston Dynamo play home games at the stadium; the Cougars since 1998 and the Dynamo since 2006. The University of Houston is weighing options to replace Robertson Stadium, and the Dynamo are scheduled to move into a new downtown soccer-specific stadium in 2012.
Year Opened: 1942
The History: Robertson Stadium hosted high school football until the Houston Cougars called it home in 1946, playing there until 1950. After stints at Rice Stadium at the Astrodome, Houston moved back to Robertson Stadium in 1998. The expansion Houston Oilers of the American Football League began playing there in 1960 and did so until 1964. The 1960 and 1962 AFL Championship Games were held here, as the Houston Oilers faced the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Texans, respectively.
Rice Stadium (Rice Owls)
The Skinny: Rice Stadium has seen a lot of football since it opened in 1950. It has hosted the Rice Owls since that season, and also hosted the Houston Cougars from 1951-64, the AFL’s Houston Oilers from 1965-67 and the Bluebonnet Bowl from 1959-67 and 1985-86. In addition, Rice Stadium, which underwent a $6M renovation in the spring of 1996, hosted Super Bowl VII, won by the Miami Dolphins 24-7 over the Minnesota Vikings.
Year Opened: 1950
Capacity: 47,000, expandable to 70,000
Historical Significance: On September 12, 1962, Rice Stadium hosted a speech by President John F. Kennedy in which he challenged Americans to meet his goal of sending a man to the moon by the end of the decade.
Kyle Field (Texas A&M Aggies)
Photo courtesy of AggieAthletics.com
The Skinny: Known as one of the most intimidating venues in college football, Kyle Field in College Station, Texas is nicknamed the Home of the 12th Man, an ode to Aggies fans. From “Midnight Yell” practice to kissing your date every time the Aggies score, Kyle Field offers a top-notch game experience. It is no wonder CBS Sports named it the best venue in college football.
Year Opened: 1927
Decade of Dominance: n the 1990s, Texas A&M was dominant at Kyle Field with a 55-4-1 (92.5 winning percentage) record. During that span, the Aggies put together two of the longest home winning streaks in school history, a 31-game winning streak from 1990-95 (fifth-largest in Division I-A history) and a 22-game winning streak from 1996-2000.
Darrell K. Royal Stadium (Texas Longhorns)
The Skinny: Keeping in line with the “Everything is bigger in Texas” mantra, Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium offers a 55 x 134-foot HD display board, one of the nation’s largest. With over 100,000 fans in the stands each week, the stadium offers one of the largest crowds in college football. The Longhorns have won 77.9% of their games in this stadium since it opened through the 2010 season.
Year Opened: 1924
Fun Fact: On December 9, 1988, Darrell K. Royal Stadium was the site of the 5A state semifinal game between Dallas Carter High School and Odessa Permian (won by Carter 14-9) that was the center of the Buzz Bissinger book Friday Night Lights.
Hofheinz Pavilion (Houston Cougars)
The Skinny: Hofheinz Pavilion has low ceilings and theatre-style cushioned seats that encircle the arena, giving fans the feeling as though they are on top of the action with an unobstructed view. The University has announced its intention to undergo a $40M renovation to the Pavilion to expand and upgrade the facility. The Houston Cougars have called the multi-purpose facility home since 1969, and the Houston Rockets played home games here from 1971-75.
Year Opened: 1969
Phi Slama Jama: The nickname of the Houston Cougars basketball team from 1982-84 was Phi Slama Jama, quickly adopted by players and media. The team featured future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, advancing to the NCAA Final Four three years in a row (1982-84).
Tudor Fieldhouse (Rice University)
The Skinny: Previously known as Rice Gymnasium, Tudor Fieldhouse underwent a $23M renovation in 2008, which displaced the basketball team to the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas, Reliant Arena and the Toyota Center. The renovations have added a new sound system and scoreboard, as well as upgrading the concessions and restrooms.
Year Opened: 1950
Fun Fact: The arena was originally designated “Autry Court” in memory of Mrs. James L. Autry. Her husband James Lockhart Autry was a descendant of Micajah Autry, who was a hero of the Battle of the Alamo. Her daughter, Mrs. Edward W. Kelley, made a generous donation to the gymnasium building fund in honor of her late mother, an ardent supporter of Rice.
Reed Arena (Texas A&M Aggies)
The Skinny: The Reed Rowdies help make the arena one of the most hostile in college basketball, similar to the atmosphere that has made football games at Kyle Field so popular. Reed Arena features parquet wood floors, and set a record attendance of 13,717 in a February 27, 2010 win over Texas.
Year Opened: 1998
Hurricane Relief: Reed Arena has served as a temporary shelter for evacuees during Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike. It served as the temporary home to Tulane’s basketball team in 2005-06.
Erwin Center (Texas Longhorns)
The Skinny: Often referred to as “The Drum” because of its drum-like appearance, the Erwin Center is Austin’s premiere venue for special events and concerts, as well as Texas Longhorns basketball, of course. A 2003 expansion and renovation added 28 seats and increased seating capacity to 16,734, as well as a new Jumbotron.
Year Opened: 1977
Fun Fact: The first sellout and largest crowd at the Erwin Center do not belong to Texas basketball. Lawrence Welk was the first sellout of the arena on March 12, 1978, and the largest crowd showed up for John Denver on May 6, 1978 to the tune of 17,829 fans.
Photo courtesy of AlamoBowl.com
The Skinny: The Alamodome in San Antonio played host to the San Antonio Spurs from 1993-2002, and has hosted the Alamo Bowl since 1993 and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl since 2002. The New Orleans Saints played games in the dome in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina displaced them from the Louisiana Superdome. The dome also hosted the Final Four in 1998, 2004 and 2008, the NBA All-Star Game in 1996, and three Big XII Championship Games.
Year Opened: 1993
Capacity: 65,000, expandable to 72,000
New Tenant: The University of Texas-San Antonio has added a football program to begin as a Division I-AA independent in 2011, with the plan to move to Division I-A in 2014. They are led by former Miami Hurricanes national championship-winning head coach Larry Coker, and will play home games at the Alamodome.