Study guide for the start of the year

Rice athletics overview

"But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?" –John F. Kennedy

As the start of the school year approaches, Rice football will continue its tradition of playing Texas with the game scheduled to take place at NRG stadium on September 14th. President John F. Kennedy would have you believe that we choose to do this because it is hard. As a recent graduate from Rice, I now know it's because we think we are so smart that we truly believe our gameplan is going to work this year...

For the first time in my life I live in the city of my alma mater and can't wait to attend games and be a part of the glorious tradition. I unfortunately was severely lacking in basic information from where to park to how much games cost. When reaching out to the athletic department I learned an interesting fact, Rice doesn't just play Football... In fact they have 14 Division 1 sports. Yes Fourteen! And another fun fact, watching most of the games is easy.

The PR team from Rice Athletics sent me over the following data which I am honored to pass on to you the Sportsmap reader. The Rice Campus is beautiful, the games are competitive (and cheap), and they have a great family friendly atmosphere. Armed with the information below I hope I can quickly catch you up on what is going on in the heart of Houston and who knows, maybe I can even convince a few readers to join in on the action. I do know one thing for sure though, I'm going to force you scroll down to see what the 14 sports are.


  • 2019 Season Home Opening game: August 25th at home vs. Houston
  • Stadium & Avg ticket price: Holloway Field, season tickets starting as low as $30 and individual as low as $8
  • Summary: After finishing 7-9-1 in 2018, the Rice soccer program is under the direction of new head coach Brian Lee – a finalist for National Coach of the Year last season while leading LSU to the SEC Championship. The Owls return seven starters to the lineup in 2019, including C-USA Midfielder of the Year Lianne Mananquil.
  • Key events of 2019: August 25 vs crosstown rival Houston; Nov. 1 vs. North Texas (both matches played at home).


  • 2019 Season Opening match: Aug 30th @ Ole Miss (Tournament)
  • Stadium & Avg ticket price: Tudor Fieldhouse, individual tickets as low as $8.
  • Summary: The Owls are coming off a 24-7 season last year in which they advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a sweep of the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. Rice returns junior outside hitter Nicole Lennon, the reigning C-USA Player of the Year, as well as all-conference recipients Grace Morgan, Lee Ann Cunningham, Anota Adekunle and Carly Graham. In addition to posting their fifth straight 20-win season with a 24-7 record, the Owls earned their best C-USA record (12-2) while notching the longest winning streak (15 straight) in program history.


  • 2019 Season Home Opening game: September 6 vs. Wake Forest
  • Stadium & Avg ticket price: Rice Stadium, season tickets on sale now as low as $135, individual game sales begin next week.
  • Summary: Mike Bloomgren's second season in leading the Owls features seven home games, including six at Rice Stadium, which begins its 70th season on September 6. Rice opens the season at Army on August 30, then plays in Houston the next four weekends, hosting Wake Forest, Baylor (September 21) and Louisiana Tech (September 28) at Rice Stadium and Texas at NRG Stadium on September 14.
  • Key events of 2019: Rice vs. Texas at NRG Stadium (September 14). Rice's 100th Homecoming vs. Marshall (November 2).

  • 2019 Season Home Opening game: Nov. 9 vs. Penn
  • Stadium & Avg ticket price:
  • Summary: Rice opens the season on Nov. 5 at former Southwest Conference foe Arkansas. The Owls look to improve on their 13 wins from last year and appearance in the Conference USA Tournament. They are led by seniors Ako Adams and Robert Martin and Conference USA All-Freshman team member Chris Mullins.
  • Key events: Nov. 19 vs. Houston at Tudor Fieldhouse

  • 2019 Season Opening game: Nov. 5th vs. Nicholls State
  • Season Tickets: Tudor Fieldhouse,
  • Summary: Last season was one for the record books for the Owls, reeling off a school record 28 wins while sweeping both the C-USA regular season (16-0) and conference tournament. The Owls, who climbed as high as No. 21 in the AP Top-25 Poll, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years under C-USA Coach of the Year Tina Langley and established a program record with 21 consecutive wins along the way. Rice returns four starters and nine letterwinners from last year's championship team, including the C-USA Player of the Year, Erica Ogwumike and Defensive Player of the Year, Nancy Mulkey.
  • Key events of 2019: Nov 17 vs Texas A&M, game is played at Tudor Fieldhouse; Dec. 20-21 vs. Virginia Tech/Georgia Tech in Puerto Rico.

  • 2020 Dual opener: January 18 vs. Lamar
  • Stadium & Avg. ticket price: George R. Brown Tennis Center, Admission is free
  • Summary: The Owls captured their seventh Conference USA title in 2019, their sixth in the last seven years and ended the year ranked 40th in the country. The entire starting lineup returns for the 2019-20 season, led by C-USA Player of the Year Michaela Haet. The fall tournament season features the annual Rice Invitational (September 27-29).
  • Key events of 2020: A combined dual with the Rice men vs. LSU (#26 in 2019) on February 23; duals with Texas Tech (#29) on February 8, Kansas (#13) on March 7 and Washington State (#36).

    • 2020 Dual opener: January 25 vs. Incarnate Word
    • Stadium & Avg. ticket price: George R. Brown Tennis Center Admission is free
    • Summary: Rice welcomes back its entire starting lineup, led by 2019 Conference USA Player of the Year Sumit Sarkar. The fall tournament season features the annual Rice Invitational (October 18-20).
    • Key events of 2020: A combined dual with the Rice women vs. LSU (#48 in 2019) on February 23; dual vs. TCU (#10) n March 13 and the Rice Invitational March 27-29.
    • Note: The George R. Brown Tennis Center will also host a pair of professional tournaments in the fall of 2019. The Texas Tamale Company Houston Cup, an ITF Pro Circuit event, will be played from September 16-22 while the Oracle Challenger Series will be held November 10-17. In addition, the Invesco Series legends tour is projected to return to the Tudor Fieldhouse in November.


  • 2019 Season Opening Meet: Sept. 13th @ Rice Intramural Fields
  • Avg ticket price: Free
  • Summary: The men and women are each coming off third place finishes in 2018 and return several top runners, including Hociel Landa (men-2nd Team), Alex Topini (men-2nd Team), Adolfo Carvalho (men-2nd Team), Lourdes Vivas de Lorenzi (women-2nd Team), Khayla patel (women-2nd Team), Ryann Helmers (women-Third Team) and Ashley Messineo (women-Third Team).
  • Key events of 2019: Sep 13, Rice Invitational
  • GOLF

  • 2019-20 Opener: Sept. 16-17 at Lone Star Invitational in San Antonio
  • Avg Ticket price: Unfortunately no admission to events
  • Summary: Rice looks to improve on its five top ten finishes from last year, including a fifth-place finish at the Conference USA Championships, finishing one stroke out of the Match Play Semifinals. The Owls return seven letterwinners from last year's squad, including lone senior Nick Duggan and junior Jake Benson, the 2019 Conference USA Champion and NCAA Regional participant.
  • Home Tournaments: Feb. 16-18 at All-American Intercollegiate at Golf Club of Houston; Apr. 13-14 at Bayou City Collegiate Classic at Golfcrest Country Club.

  • 2019 Season Home Opening Meet: Rice Invitational October 11-12 (Rice plus four visiting teams in the five-team meet)
  • Venue & Avg ticket price: Rice Competition Pool, no charge for admission
  • Summary: The Rice swim program has enjoyed steady success under head coach Seth Huston, now starting his 18th year at the helm of the program. A year ago the Owls were the runner-up team at the 31-team National Invitational Swim Meet, often referred to as the "Swimming NIT."
  • Key events of 2019-2020: November 9 at home vs. Texas A&M; Feb. 26-29 at the C-USA Championships in Atlanta.

  • 2020 Season Home Opening game: TBA (February 2020)
  • Stadium & Avg ticket price: Reckling Park, tickets starting as low as $10 adults/$8 youths
  • Summary: In 2019 the Owls went 26-33 under head coach Matt Bragga, who completed his first season on South Main. The Blue & Gray have a solid nucleus of experienced players returning in 2020, including junior shortstop Trei Cruz. Over the summer Cruz was recently named to the All-Star team of the prestigious Cape Cod League
  • Key events of 2020: full schedule is TBA, but the Owls host defending C-USA champion FAU and always play state rivals Houston, Texas and Texas A&M to name just a few.

  • 2020 Outdoor Home Meets: Victor Lopez Classic (Mar. 26-28) and J. Fred Duckett Twilight (Apr. 25)
  • Ticket Price and Availability: TBD, Tickets sold at gates
  • Past Results: 2018 Men Indoor Finish: 5th/10, 2018 Men Outdoor Finish: 7th/10, 2018 Women Indoor Finish: 4th/13, 2018 Women Outdoor Finish: 3rd/13
  • Top Returners: Men: Natan Rivera (pole vault), Corbett Fong (decathlon), Nick Hicks (thrower), Hociel Landa (distance), Matthew Murray (distance); Women: Michelle Fokam (jumps, All-American), Erna Gunnarsdottir (thrower), Hannah Jackson (sprints), Lourdes Vivas de Lorenzi (distance)

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    A new hotel is in the works near Minute Maid. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Astros owner Jim Crane says the team is ready to break ground on a major construction project that will include a hotel and entertainment complex across the street from Minute Maid Park as soon as the 2023 baseball season wraps up – hopefully with another World Series parade in downtown Houston.


    But another hotel? Another entertainment complex? More construction downtown? My first reaction was, how much more does Houston need? I remember when the Super Bowl was held in Houston in 2004, clubs and restaurants sprung up downtown practically overnight, only to disappear virtually the morning after. When it came to downtown development, the expression “less is more” turned out true. At least that Super Bowl.

    I asked my contacts in government and the Houston welcome wagon, is this a good idea, building a hotel and entertainment complex next door to Minute Maid Park? Do we need it? Can we sustain it?

    The answer every time was a resounding yes! For a couple of reasons: first, downtown Houston, coming out of Covid, is booming, leadership is creative and budget-minded these days, and most important, if Jim Crane is behind the idea, you can trust it’ll work. The guy’s got a track record.

    “In 2004, the idea was to turn downtown’s Main Street into Bourbon Street. Is that what we really want? It was a misguided plan, the wrong philosophy, and businesses opened and closed in short order,” a source told me.

    It was a different story when the Super Bowl returned to Houston in 2017. This time Houston saw the Marriott Marquis, a 1,000-room hotel complete with an iconic Texas-shaped swimming pool, open in time for the tourist onslaught. Also, Avenida Houston greeted downtown visitors with new restaurants and entertainment venues. Both the Marriott and Avenida Houston have continued to thrive long after the Super Bowl left town.

    “We want our downtown to attract visitors while providing services for the growing number of singles and families who are making their home downtown. As we continue to host major events and conventions, there will be a need for more hotel rooms,” the source said.

    The Astros’ plan to build a sprawling hotel and entertainment complex originally was discussed in 2021 but was put on hold due to Covid. Now Crane and the Astros are ready to come out swinging. Similar complexes operate successfully next to the baseball stadium in St. Louis, Chicago and other cities.

    An Astros-themed hotel adjacent to Minute Maid Park is particularly intriguing. The lobby could be home to an Astros museum and team Hall of Fame. Rooms and restaurants could be decorated in honor of Astros legends – the “Nolan Ryan honeymoon suite,” or “Strech Suba’s Bullpen Bar and Grille.” There could be meeting space for autograph and memorabilia shows. There could be a broadcast facility for post-game interviews and analysis. And maybe one day, fingers crossed, a betting parlor like the Cubs have at Wrigley Field.

    The Astros have a contract to play at Minute Maid Park through 2050 – the only long-term contract that doesn’t make Crane cringe. Anything that enhances the fan experience and generates revenue is good for the team and the city. I might even consider going downtown on non-game nights.

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