Stadium Cheat Sheet

The Houston stadium tour cheat sheet Part 2: Toyota Center

Toyota Center is still state of the art. Houston Toyota Center/Facebook

This is part two of the Houston stadium series. You can find part one — Minute Maid Park — here. This story was originally posted before basketball season started. 

We’re peeling back the layers of Toyota Center, home of the only team in Houston that refuses to accept mediocrity — the Houston Rockets.

Seriously, look at the team. In the past 30 years, the Rockets have had three losing seasons. Three. It’s the only team that Houstonians sound pretentious being mad at. I’ll admit, I was disgusted at last season’s 41-41 record, despite the fact that they still made the playoffs. That’s essentially equivalent to that one insufferably good-looking friend we all have complaining about only getting hit on twice at the bar instead of four times. You still got hit on, bro. You’ll be fine.

Make no mistake; the Rockets will be insufferably good-looking this year, too. They are ridiculously fun to watch with all the three pointers they drain, not to mention they added Chris Paul. Oh, and then there’s James Harden. Let’s talk about James Harden. He’s playing out of his mind and is worth the price of admission.

 You should be going out with the insufferably good-looking Rockets. Hang out with them. I guarantee you’ll have a great time.

Where to get tickets

Absolute no-brainer here. Flashseats is the way to go. You can find seats as low as $15, and you can also bid a lower price if you’re so inclined. If you pay face value you’re looking at $50 aticket at least. It’s definitely supply and demand-driven so don’t expect anything cheap when the Cavs or Warriors head into town.

Where to park

Once again, park south of Highway 59. Polk Street is mainly free to park on, as well as Hutchins Street. Parking here will set you up in great position for the most important step.

Where to pregame

If you want to show out, you can always just pull up a seat at the bar at Pappasito’s across the street from the arena. Don’t do that. There’s a Pappasito’s near home, guaranteed. Just go to that one. Instead, go see the neighborhood.

If you parked where I suggested, guess what? You’re right in front of 8th Wonder Brewery. It doesn’t get more Houston than pregaming at a brewery whose entire image is predicated off of Houston sports. Toss back a Rocket Fuel coffee porter or a seasonal Dream Shake stout while lounging in seats pulled straight from the Astrodome itself and grab some Slab fries from the Eatsie Boys food truck parked out back.

If beer just isn’t your thing, then head northwest one block to The Secret Group. Most Rockets games start by 7 pm, and The Secret Group has a happy hour from 5-7 pm. Three dollar wells, people. You do the math.

Where to get beer

From either of these pregaming spots, head up Polk Street and enter at the corner of Polk and Jackson Street. There’s a full-service bar behind sections 112 and 101. There aren’t any hidden gems like Minute Maid, so it’s usually Bud Light or Zeigenbock. Upstairs there’s a Tito’s bar behind section 411 and another full bar behind section 424. If possible, avoid sitting in sections 416 to 420. There’s a children’s play area over there and you have to walk at least a quarter of the way around the arena to get anything.

Where to eat

HTX Brew and Grub in section 108 is the Toyota Center equivalent of Minute Maid Park’s Street Eats stand. Good grub, start there. Sections 125 and 403 will satisfy your barbecue cravings fairly well with HOU BBQ, but other than that, pickings are slim at Toyota Center outside of the standard fare.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, be sure to go to Clutch the mascot’s annual birthday celebration. They give out free cake to everyone in attendance. 

Where it gets rowdy

The entire upper bowl, honestly. They’ve priced out the diehard fans from downstairs, so it’s not uncommon to see a sparsely seated lower arena contrasted by a packed upper concourse. The only real exception to the lower concourse is section 114, home of the Rockets’ diehard fan group, the Red Rowdies. The Red Rowdies were the creation of then head coach Jeff Van Gundy. He held tryouts for the craziest fans and gave the best ones season tickets. They’ve been going nuts ever since, despite their hilariously outdated page on the Rockets official site (I never knew Chase Budinger had his own chant. That’s on me).

Toyota Center is a great venue, but it certainly lacks the Easter eggs that Minute Maid Park has stashed across the place. It doesn’t need them though, because you should honestly just be watching those insufferably good-looking Rockets wreck shop.

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome