FALCON POINTS

Ranking the top 5 fan experiences at sports venues in Houston

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Houston has a vibrant sports scene, with plenty of options. But what venue offers the best fan experience? Using the following criteria, we rank the top 5 venues in the city based on the experience for the attendee: 1) Quality of team, 2) Concessions, 3) Fan engagement, 4) Site lines, 5) General atmosphere. We rank the venues based on the experience watching the main sports tenants. Obviously any list is subjective, but having been to all of these multiple times in different situations, this is how they rank:


5) Toyota Center/Rockets

Toyota Center Courtesy photo

When it comes to quality of team, site lines, concessions and fan engagement, Toyota Center still holds up very well even though it is now 16 years old. Getting to watch two former MVPs in James Harden and Russell Westbrook is an added bonus. Where it falls short is the general atmosphere. While the red rowdies are fun and engaged, fans show up late, often stay at the bars instead of their seats, and many are just there to be seen. It's better in the playoffs, but the regular season is overly corporate and the atmosphere is pretty lame. It is also a great place for concerts and events like the WWE.

Side note: If you are going for concessions, wait until play is stopped before walking back to your seat in front of people. There are some people there to actually watch the game.

4) BBVA Compass Stadium/Dynamo

Photo courtesy of BBVA

Soccer fans are a different breed; they are engaged throughout with music, drums and fun. There really is not a bad seat in the house and the overall experience is awesome. Unfortunately the team has been pretty much irrelevant for the past several years and is slowly losing the fan base. The other negative is the place can be a microwave oven in the summer. Orange seats in 100 degree weather? It's much better at night, though, when they play most of the games. Still, if you haven't been to a game, it is worth your time.

3) NRG Stadium/Texans

Outside view of NRG Stadium NRG Park/Facebook

The tail gating here is second to none, which means the fans are usually nice and lubed up before the game. The stadium itself is terrific, and the team is a consistent playoff contender. Still, fans tend to show up late, and there is some of the corporate atmosphere of Toyota Center. The team itself does not always inspire the fan base; the Thursday night game against the Colts in particular was pathetic. Part of the problem is many of the fans are not Texans fans, but NFL fans from other cities. However, when there is a playoff game, the atmosphere is terrific. Also a great place to watch college football and of course the rodeo.

2) Minute Maid Park/Astros

A look at Minute Maid Park MLB.com

The team's World Series run in 2017 energized what was once a mausoleum. The playoff atmosphere is through the roof and the best experience in the city. The regular season can be flat at times, but there are 81 home games. Still, it's a far cry from the years where other team's fans dominated. The only negative is now that the place is packed on a semi-regular basis, it is difficult to get around the facility when it gets crowded. But that's the trade-off for success. The team has created some magical memories over the past few seasons, moving Minute Maid up the list.

1) Fertitta Center/UH

When Tilman Fertitta put money into the old Hofheinz, it was hard to imagine they were going to turn it into a near-perfect college basketball arena. It's cozy, with only 7,100 seats, which is the perfect amount to ensure sell outs. Plus, Kelvin Sampson has turned the Cougars into a relevant team on a national level. A Sweet 16 run last year and several high profile home wins made the overall experience excellent. If you even remotely like college basketball or any college sporting experience, this place is a must, especially if you can score tickets for a high profile AAC opponent. Simply the best experience in the city.

Honorable mention

While the team is not what it used to be, Reckling Park is still a fun place to take in a Rice Owls baseball game. Constellation Field in Sugar Land provides perhaps the most fun family experience for the Skeeters. If UH football can get back to where it was a couple years ago, TDECU will move back up the list. Rice Stadium is a piece of history and worth visiting once.

The good news? The city has no shortage of great venues for college and pro sports, and plenty good teams to watch. It's a far cry from the old days of the Astrodome, Robertson Stadium and the Summit. It helps, too, that none of the teams are actually bad. In the end, isn't that what makes for the best experience?


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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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