December 20, 2004
Our stadium can kick your stadium's butt!

In the midst of this article on the various Texas-based bowl games and how they position themselves in the market, Dale Robertson makes a remarkable (to me, anyway) observation:

Understandably, the SBC Cotton Bowl and the Alamo Bowl have been made a tad nervous by Houston's lofty aspirations. Texas' largest city has by far the best stadium in the state and probably the entire country, which gave it sufficient confidence to enter the fray when a fifth BCS bowl briefly seemed to be in the offing.

I admit, my football stadium experience is somewhat limited, but is Reliant really the best in the state? By far? How about the best in the country? I have no way to evaluate this, and I'm not even sure if Robertson is restricting himself to stadia which host bowl games or not.

[I]f you're the Big 12 and the SEC, wouldn't you rather spend New Year's Day in Reliant's modern, luxurious, protected-from-the-elements environs instead of the cold, bare-bones Cotton Bowl?

"Our stadium is out there; it's an issue," concedes Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker. "It's something our board will have to look at, at the appropriate time. But Fair Park has been our home for 68 years, and the mayor has indicated (the city of Dallas) wants to keep us by making improvements."

I've been to the Cotton Bowl, and I'll certainly grant that Reliant Stadium is the better venue. It's still a leap to go from there to "probably the best in the entire country". Can someone with more stadium experience than me give some feedback here? Thanks.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 20, 2004 to Other sports | TrackBack

What makes Reliant so good?

The seats?
The sight lines?
The accoutrements (TV monitors etc?)
The concessions and food service?
The accessibility?
The surrounding neighborhood?

For my own part as a regular sports fan and not a club-level or skybox sort of person, what makes a good stadium experience is the following in no particular order:

1. Good comfortable seating
2. Good sight lines for the less than prime seats
3. Wide variety of quality food choices without excessive prices
5. Walking distance to interesting neighborhoods with shops and restaurants.

I generally like to take public transit to games and then linger in the neighborhood for drinks or dinner until the crowds thin out. That works great at urban stadium locations like in Seattle and Baltimore. Doesn't work at all in places like Texas Stadium for the Cowboys. I also like to have good food options without getting jacked. The Mariner's stadium in Seattle has the best food court I have ever seen. They must have 40 different ethnic choices with everything from Sushi to BBQ.

I've never been to Reliant Stadium, but I would think they have some pretty heavy competition from the new Seahawks stadium in Seattle.

I understand that the new stadiums in Philly and Detroit are pretty nice too. I wouldn't doubt that Houston has the nicest stadium in Texas but the entire country? Reliant is newest Texas stadium for sure and the only stadium in Texas that was built in the past 3 decades I suspect. What is the 2nd newest football stadium in Texas? The Cowboys's stadium? Even that one is pretty aging. And all the university stadiums are ancient structures that have been remodeled endless times.

Posted by: Kent on December 20, 2004 5:34 PM

The Alamodome in San Antonio is the next most recent stadium, and I'd assume it's the best in-state competition for Reliant. I've never been there, though, so I can't say for sure.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 20, 2004 6:58 PM

I see the Chronicle's taken Robertson off of his meds again. But I've got to give him this, Houston does have the best football stadium in the state, but it's not Reliant. Just go a little ways up Main and you'll get there. Rice Stadium is far superior to Reliant for the actual practice of watching football. It was built for one purpose, watching football, so all seating's meant to give a great view of the field and the playing action. And that's what's important, not luxury boxes, scoreboards, TVs, etc.

I've got to agree about the Seattle stadiums. And I've been to Denver's new football field, Invesco Field -- WOW! And they're real football fans, they don't need no roof like the pussies here in Houston.

Posted by: johnr on December 20, 2004 7:19 PM

Rice Stadium is great when it's raining, or when it's 95 and sunny in late August.


Reliant is a nice facility, but it's probably a stretch to say it's the best in the country. Sadly, they didn't even build it big enough to host the Super Bowl properly. Another problem is the gray grass (they just can't keep enough trays growing outside to rotate it in fast enough).

And it doesn't really matter if it's the nicest right now, because Jerry Jones is going to build a playpen that will probably hold two Reliants. And he'll have the state's BCS game in his playpen. Except I hope we'll be done with the BCS by the time Jerry's stadium is done, and using a playoff.

A boy can dream, can't he?

Posted by: kevin whited on December 20, 2004 8:40 PM

Well, the best football EXPERIENCE is a completely different issue from the best stadium. Most of the best football experiences in the US are at college stadiums where the seating is nothing but wooden benches but the atmosphere is electric.

For example, in Miami I'd much rather watch the Canes play in the aging Orange Bowl than the Dolphins play in newer but sterile Pro Player Stadium.

How about a vote for the WORST stadium in the country? To qualify as the worst, it must be a major stadium that has pretensions for being great, but has utterly failed in the execution. My vote would have to go to the remodeled Solider Field in Chicago. They took a historic old stadium and created a total abortion by trying to add skyboxes and modern amenities without destroying the historic facade. They ended up with a complete disaster. Take a look at the travesty:

Posted by: Kent on December 21, 2004 3:52 PM

I can tell you from my past experiences of being an Auburn student that LSU at night is the most intimidating place for a visitor team. Tiger stadium is not the nicest place, but it is the best football experience. The tailgating is great there, and the fans dedication to the team is insane. If Tiger Stadium had 100,000 seats then you would hear the night games in Texas.

Posted by: AUgrad on July 22, 2006 6:16 PM