FALCON POINTS

Ranking the top 5 fan experiences at sports venues in Houston

Houston Cougars Men's Hoops Facebook

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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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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