Posts Tagged ‘austin’

Top NFL-College Football Sports Power Weekends in 2012

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012


There are so many great NFL-college football weekends each fall that it is hard to pare down the list. Nonetheless, here are, in my opinion, the 50 best NFL-college football Sports Power Weekends of 2012. The main criteria for this list was that it must include an NFL and college game. There are plenty of great weekends in September that feature MLB games with a great NFL or college game, but I wanted to highlight weekends that included at least two different football games.

I’d love to hear your feedback if you think I am overlooking a great weekend, or ranked one too high.

For more information about planning or booking a Sports Power Weekend package, please contact Jared Cooper at Jared.Cooper@SPWtravel.com, (646) 397-5350, or via twitter at @SportsPowerWknd.

1. Chicago, September 21-23

Friday
  • St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
Saturday
  • Michigan at Notre Dame
Sunday
  • Rams at Bears

Wrigley Field, Notre Dame Stadium and Soldier Field during one incredible weekend based out of the Windy City. Sign me up!

2. New York, September 5-9

Wednesday
  • Cowboys at Giants (NFL Kickoff Game)
  • US Open Tennis
Thursday
  • US Open Tennis
Friday
  • Atlanta Braves at NY Mets
  • US Open Tennis
Saturday
  • USC vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium
  • US Open Tennis (Women’s Final)
Sunday
  • Bills at Jets (Home Opener)
  • US Open Tennis (Men’s Final)


Three games at MetLife Stadium on this weekend, including the first game of the 2012 season featuring the defending Super Bowl champs against their bitter rival, the Jets home opener, and Heisman and top pick front-runner Matt Barkley from USC. Also see Citi Field on Friday as the Mets host the Braves.

3. New Orleans, November 3-5

Saturday
  • Alabama at LSU
Sunday
Monday
  • Eagles at Saints (Monday Night)

A rematch of last year’s National Championship Game with the winner in great position to win the SEC West takes places on Saturday in Baton Rouge. On Monday night at the Superdome, the Saints host the Eagles in an NFC showdown.

4. Los Angeles-San Diego, November 24-25

Saturday
  • Notre Dame at USC
  • Stanford at UCLA
Sunday
  • Ravens at Chargers

The historic rivalry between Notre Dame and USC leads us to the Coliseum. A day later and two hours south, two perennial AFC heavyweights face off in San Diego. A nice Thanksgiving weekend in southern California.

5. Dallas, November 22-24

Thursday
  • Redskins at Cowboys (Thanksgiving)
Friday
Saturday
  • TCU at Texas
  • Baylor vs. Texas Tech (Cowboys Stadium)

Another great Thanksgiving option, this time in the heart of Texas. The Cowboys continue their Thanksgiving tradition, this time hosting their division rivals. On Saturday in Austin, TCU and Texas clash in the newly-remodeled Big XII. Cowboys Stadium will also host Baylor and Texas Tech on Saturday. (more…)

Facility Roundup: Houston and San Antonio

Friday, December 17th, 2010

NFL:

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

Capacity:  71,500

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.

MLB:

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

Capacity:  40,950

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.

NBA:

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

Capacity:  18,300

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

Capacity:  18,581

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.

College Football:

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

Capacity:  32,000

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

Capacity:  82,600

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

Capacity:  100,119

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.

College Basketball:

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

Capacity:  8,479

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

Capacity:  5,208

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

Capacity:  12,989

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

Capacity:  16,734

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.

Miscellaneous

Alamodome

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.

Facility Roundup: Dallas and Austin

Monday, December 13th, 2010

NFL:

Cowboys Stadium (Dallas Cowboys)

The Skinny:  This $1.2B palace is the largest domed stadium in the world, and sports the world’s largest HD video screen, which hangs from the 20-yard line to the 20-yard line, 60 yards long. The retractable roof stadium has hosted a number of events in sports and entertainment, including NBA All-Star Weekend in 2010 (with a record crowd of 108,713 fans), the Cotton Bowl, a number of college football and college basketball games, soccer games, boxing matches and high-profile concerts. The stadium will host Super Bowl XLV in February of 2011, and the Final Four in 2014.

Year Opened:  2009

Capacity:  80,000 (expands to 110,000 with standing room only seating)

Best Moment:  January 3, 2010. In a Week 17 game that would decide the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-0 to win the division in their inaugural season at Cowboys Stadium. One week later, the Cowboys would host the Eagles again in a Wild Card Weekend playoff matchup, with the Cowboys again proving victorious, by a 34-14 score.

MLB:

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Texas Rangers)

The Skinny:  One of the early retro-style ballparks, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – which hosted the 1995 MLB All-Star game – incorporates features from Tiger Stadium, the old Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. Greene’s Hill, named after former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene, is a sloped section of grass behind center field that serves as a “batter’s eye.” The Rangers have announced extensive renovations to upgrade the technology of the park that are set to debut for the 2011 season.

Year Opened:  1994

Capacity:  49,170

Best Moment:  October 22, 2020. The Rangers clinched their first-ever American League pennant at home by defeating the New York Yankees 6-1 in Game 6 of the ALCS. The Ballpark also hosted Games 3, 4, and 5 of the 2010 World Series.

NBA/NHL:

American Airlines Center (Dallas Mavericks & Dallas Stars)

The Skinny:  In addition to being a state-of-the-art sports facility, the American Airlines Center is also considered to be among the best concert venues in the country, even being named “Concert Venue of the Year” by Pollstar Magazine in 2006. Forbes ranked it the fourth most lucrative arena in the US in 2008. The unique design that includes retractable seating makes for a very easy transition between basketball and hockey, and results in great sightlines for fans on the north and south ends.

Year Opened:  2001

Capacity:  19,200 for basketball, 18,532 for hockey

Best Moment:  June 8, 2006. In their NBA Finals franchise debut, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 90-80 in Game 1 of the 2006 NBA Finals. The Mavericks would go on to win Game 2 at home as well, but eventually lost to the Heat in six games.

MLS:

Pizza Hut Park (FC Dallas)

The Skinny:  Home to FC Dallas of Major League Soccer, Pizza Hut Park also sports 17 additional tournament-grade fields for youth and adult soccer, as well as high school sports and other events. The soccer-specific stadium located in Frisco has hosted FC Dallas since it opened in 2005.

Year Opened:  2005

Capacity:  23,500

Best Moment:  The stadium hosted the MLS Cup in each of the first two years it was open, in 2005 and 2006. Both of those games had thrilling finishes; in 2005 the LA Galaxy defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 in overtime, and in 2006 the Houston Dynamo defeated the Revolution 4-3 on penalty kicks after finishing 1-1 in regulation. The stadium also played host to the NCAA Men’s College Cup in 2008, and will host the NCAA FCS championship game in 2011-2013.

College Football:

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

Capacity:  100,119

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.

Gerald J. Ford Stadium (SMU Mustangs)

The Skinny:  The bowl-shaped stadium within the Dallas city limits was the last on-campus Division I-A stadium to be built in the 20th century. It features Doak Walker Plaza outside the northeast corner of the stadium, honoring the former Mustang Heisman Trophy winner. The plaza features a replica of the Doak Walker Award trophy, awarded annually to the top running back in college football. In 2007, the stadium hosted a #1 vs. #2 matchup in high school football between Miami Northwestern and Southlake Carroll in front of 31,986 fans.

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity:  32,000

Best Moment:  September 2, 2000. In this inaugural game at Gerald J. Ford Stadium, the SMU Mustangs defeated the Kansas Jayhawks 31-17. It started a new chapter in the storied (but tumultuous) history of SMU football.

Amon G. Carter Stadium (TCU Horned Frogs)

Photo Courtesy of GoFrogs.com

The Skinny: The stadium has undergone a number of renovations over the course of its 80-year history, most recently in 2008, when capacity was expanded to 44,358. A $105M renovation is underway in the West stands that aims to enhance football fans’ experience at the stadium, with an expected completion by the 2012 season. The Armed Forces Bowl has been held here since 2003.

Year Opened:  1930

Capacity:  44,358

Best Moment:  November 14, 2009. The fourth-ranked Horned Frogs welcomed the 14th-ranked Utah Utes to Amon G. Carter Stadium, with ESPN’s College Gameday making its first appearance on TCU campus. TCU won 55-28 in front of the largest crowd in the stadium’s history, 50,307 fans.

Kyle Field (Texas A&M Aggies)

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

Capacity:  82,600

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.

Jones AT&T Stadium (Texas Tech Red Raiders)

The Skinny:  Between 1999 and 2009, Texas Tech has spent $84M on on-going renovations to the stadium that have kept it modern and increased seating capacity by nearly 10,000 seats. Located in Lubbock, Texas, the stadium follows the Spanish Renaissance architecture seen throughout the Texas Tech campus.

Year Opened:  1947

Capacity:  60,454

Best Moment:  November 1, 2008. ESPN College Gameday made its first-ever trip to Lubbock to see Texas Tech knock of #1 ranked Texas 39-33 on a Michael Crabtree touchdown catch with one-second remaining in the game. The fans rushed the field (a bit early, actually), providing perhaps the greatest memory in the stadium’s history.

College Basketball:

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

Capacity:  16,734

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.

Reed Arena (Texas A&M Aggies)

Photo courtesy of AggieAthletics.com

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

Capacity:  12,989

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.

United Spirit Arena (Texas Tech Red Raiders)

The Skinny:  The arena has played host to the Red Raiders and Lady Raiders basketball and volleyball teams since opening in 1999. The building is named for United Supermarkets, the 68-store retail grocery chain that contributed the $10 million gift to kick-off construction of the arena.

Year Opened:  1999

Capacity:  15,000

Best Moment:  January 1, 2007. Texas Tech defeated New Mexico 70-68, giving head coach Bobby Knight his 880th win, making him the winningest coach in men’s college basketball history.

Miscellaneous:

Dr. Pepper Arena (NAHL Texas Tornado & NBDL Texas Legends)

The Skinny:  Located in Frisco, Texas, Dr. Pepper Arena serves as the executive offices and home practice facility of the Dallas Stars as well as the home of the Texas Tornado North American Hockey League team and the Texas Legends of the National Basketball Developmental League.

Year Opened:  2003, reopened in 2009

Capacity:  7,000

Top Sports Power Weekends: Dallas

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010



Below are the Sports Power Weekend options in Dallas and the surrounding area in the coming months. Please visit the Dallas City Guide page for information on activities and events in Dallas on days that do not have sporting events.

For more information on booking a travel package to Dallas, please contact us at info@SPWtravel.com.

April 1-3 Friday
  • Red Sox at Rangers
Saturday
  • Red Sox at Rangers
Sunday
  • Red Sox at Rangers
April 8-10 Friday
  • Clippers at Magic
  • Rapids at FC Dallas
Saturday
Sunday
  • Suns at Mavericks
April 15-17 Friday
Saturday
Sunday
April 22-24 Friday
  • Royals at Rangers
Saturday
  • Royals at Rangers
Sunday
  • Royals at Rangers
April 29-May 1 Friday
Saturday
Sunday
  • Galaxy at Dallas

Fields of Glory: University of Texas (video)

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010


Below is an episode of “Fields of Glory” focusing on Darrell K. Royal Stadium (University of Texas):

SPW Review: Austin and Dallas, October 22-25

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

As October comes to a close the leaves are changing, but taking part in a Sports Power Weekend deep in the heart of Texas will always be among sports’ best experiences.

Splitting time between Austin and Dallas felt like a two-for-one special, harkening back to my college days by partying at UT, and then heading off to the city, the Big D. Between the HD video boards at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, there was no doubting the truth behind the mantra, “Everything is bigger in Texas.”

I landed in Austin around 6:30 PM on Friday night and headed to my hotel, the Marriott Residence Inn Austin South to wait for my brother who would soon be landing. We would later be joined by two of my friends who were landing after 9 PM. The hotel is a few miles south of campus, and without a rental car until Sunday’s drive to Dallas, we ran up some substantial cab bills. If you are able to find a reasonably-priced hotel either on campus or near Sixth Street you should take it. It will save you money; unfortunately, being that it was parent’s weekend and the trip was more “spur-of-the-moment,” we had to settle for an off-campus hotel, which was still quite suitable anyway.

Once my brother arrived we went to Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill for some “classic American comfort food.” They don’t take reservations on the weekend but the wait was manageable and they have a comfortable patio to sit and have a drink while you wait. The Texas Rangers were playing the NY Yankees in the ALCS, so there was some buzz in the place while the game was shown on TV. Once you sit, the corn dog shrimp appetizer and the green chile macaroni are among the dishes that make the wait more than worth it. They have some great fish dishes as well, which we found out first-hand. And yes, the peanut butter mousse pie with oreo cookie crust is as good as it sounds.

Moonshine is only three blocks south of Austin’s hot spot, Sixth Street, so we walked up and decided to get our night started. Sixth Street is a cleaner and more college-esque version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans or Beale Street in Memphis. The street is closed off to traffic over a seven-block span, which makes for quite a street party atmosphere. You can stop in to any bar you would like (almost all are cover-free) to grab a drink and check out the scene. We probably went to six or seven bars and if we didn’t like the vibe we just moved to another bar. No harm done. Sixth is one of those streets that is so eclectic and action-packed that it is hard to describe. You’ll just have to see for yourself.

Saturday posed a bit of a challenge because after a day of traveling and a night of partying, waking up for an 11 AM kickoff is tough to do. Apparently much of the student body felt the same way because the student section of the stadium was far from packed. In any case Texas does really fill up Darrell K. Royal Stadium on a week-in week-out basis.

We grabbed some free breakfast at the Residence Inn (one of the perks of staying there) before heading towards the stadium. We didn’t have much time to tailgate before the game against Iowa State started, but on the walk to the stadium you can really get a sense for the pride these fans have; burnt orange tents and shirts are seemingly all you can see outside and inside of the stadium.

The stadium, which has been home to the Texas football team since 1924, has a capacity of over 100,000, and sports an HD video board by DAKtronics that is 55 feet high by 134 feet wide, making it the nation’s largest high-definition video board. The pregame running of the Texas flag and Bevo, the 1,800 pound longhorn steer who sits calmly at the south end zone, provides a distinct Texas flavor to the gameday atmosphere.  Unfortunately the team didn’t offer much for the fans to cheer about and Texas was beaten by Iowa State for the first time ever. The fans were surprisingly gracious in defeat; maybe they were resigned to the fact that the season was sort of a rebuilding one and with three losses already they weren’t title contenders.

In any case we proceeded to walk to Cain and Abels, a bar & grill with a number of TVs to spruce up the all-wood interior and a full patio for the nice weather days, for lunch. We ate and watched parts of the afternoon games before heading back towards campus to check out the University of Texas Tower. Unfortunately, the Tower’s observation deck is closed to tours until Spring, 2011, but checking out the Tower and the surrounding scene was worth the 15 minute walk from the restaurant.

We headed back to the hotel to rest up before eventually making our way back to Sixth Street for another go around on Saturday night. We intended to go to the The Salt Lick in its original location in nearby Driftwood for dinner, but it is about a 30-minute ride from campus and we were staring down the barrel of a two-hour wait since they don’t take reservations. We decided we would go there for lunch on Sunday while driving to Dallas, and for Saturday night went to Parkside on Sixth for dinner, which was quite nice. After dinner we re-explored Sixth, including one of my personal favorites, Pete’s Piano Bar (has a cover) and also went to West Sixth where there is more of a graduate school feel as compared to the undergrad environment on East Sixth.

If it seems like all we did in Austin was eat and drink, we were just blending in with the crowd. Austin spends more money on food and drinks than any other American city, according to World Hum (chart).

Sunday late morning we picked up a rental car back at the Austin airport and began the 3 and a half hour drive to Dallas. About 30 minutes north of Austin is a town called Round Rock, and the town actually packed much more punch than we were expecting. We stopped by the aforementioned Salt Lick for lunch, and to quote “Man vs. Food” host Adam Richman, “oh my goodness.” We ate outdoors on a beautiful day and had generous helpings of brisket and ribs in the shadow of The Dell Diamond, home of the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate Round Rock Express.

Salt Like was so good that I don’t think my words can do it justice; but take this guy’s word for it:

“I eat a ton of those Salt Lick beef ribs,” says Bobby Flay. “They are fantastic! Lots of flavor! Salt lick makes their own barbeque rules. It is so good. Beef ribs are something I don’t usually cook. It is something I leave to the Salt Lick.”

After a great meal we actually walked into the stadium to walk around. It is really a top-notch facility and you can tell it provides a great gameday atmosphere, particularly for a minor-league ballpark. We then made one more pit stop in Round Rock before continuing our journey, at Round Rock Donuts. The texas-sized donut was literally the size of my head. And it tasted damn good too.

When we arrived in Dallas we checked into our hotel downtown and decided to walk around the town a bit. The streets were pretty dead in the area, perhaps because it was a Sunday or just the fact that it was more of the business district. The uptown area is definitely more popular and provided much more excitement as we ate dinner at Mi Cocina, some of the best Tex-Mex in Dallas, which has several locations in the area, and went to Lemon Bar afterwards. Sunday night felt like a Friday night at Lemon Bar. I’d suggest staying in Uptown when you go to Dallas, which is a sprawling city that requires a car to get around.

We were able to experience a bit more of the city on Monday when we headed to the Deep Ellum part of town to have breakfast at Café Brazil, a quirky coffeehouse that served some great migas. We then decided to get some culture at the vastly underrated Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to see what more than six million worldwide visitors have – a chronicling of the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. We took a self-guided tour and all walked out pretty amazed at the photos, videos and exhibits we had just seen. You can actually look out the window and see the exact spot JFK was fatally shot, and then walk out to the grassy knoll and see reverse view to the window from which the final shot was fired. It was really an incredibly eye-opening experience.

Next we made our way to Arlington, a twenty-minute drive from downtown Dallas, which is home to Cowboys Stadium, the Ballpark at Arlington and Six Flags, all within a small radius of one another. The Hyatt Place is a nice hotel in the vicinity of all of these hot spots, and we actually decided to walk about 30 minutes to the stadium from the hotel to avoid having to either sit in gameday traffic or pay for parking and get stuck on the way out at the end of the game.

We went to the stadium hours before the Monday Night Football kickoff against the NFC East-rival New York Giants with the intention of walking around this mecca and seeing how far $1.2B takes you these days. Honestly, it seemed worth every penny (which is easy to say when you aren’t footing the bill). The video board is worthy of all of the praise that has been heaped on it, the concessions were fantastic, the concourses are wide, there is an openness to the stadium that makes it feel like an outdoor stadium, yet you are still covered, and it is surprisingly cozy for such a massive structure.

As has become a bit of a trend in my travels, the home team lost, but again the fans were entirely respectful. I have begun to realize that as New Yorkers we expose visiting fans to a certain “hospitality” that isn’t replicated in every city. While yes, some cities treat the visitors poorly (and New York does, but not horrendously so, like Philly), most other cities are pretty welcoming to road fans. Getting out of the stadium was easy and the walk home was safe and painless.

We all took early-morning flights home on Tuesday morning and upon landing realized that we did in fact mess with Texas, and have the photos to prove it.