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  • Writer's pictureEric Moreno

Houston Roughnecks – TDECU Stadium


Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

TDECU Stadium 3875 Holman St Houston, TX 77004


Year Opened: 2014

Capacity: 40,000

 

Houston Roughnecks – TDECU Stadium

The XFL returned in full force in 2023 with a new spring season and new owners Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his business partner, Dany Garcia. After the unplanned hiatus caused by the pandemic, the returned league brought back with it one of its cornerstone franchises, the Houston Roughnecks.


Playing at the home of the University of Houston Cougars, TDECU Stadium, the Roughnecks quickly became a fan favorite in Space City. TDECU Stadium was built on the former site of Robertson Stadium, which was the home of Cougars football since 1946. Robertson Stadium was razed in early 2013. TDECU Stadium opened in August 2014 at a cost of $128 million.


In their first season, they drew respectable crowds and made the playoffs. TDECU Stadium proved to be the perfect venue for the fledgling league and team. It still retains that “new stadium” feel, and is just the right size for the XFL going forward.


Food & Beverage 4

While all the food and drink options that are available for Cougars games aren’t open for the Roughnecks, what is there is still more than adequate. The variety offered is, quite frankly, pretty impressive. In addition to the kiosks that offer the standard fare of hot dogs, popcorn, candy, fountain sodas, and bottled drinks, there are plenty of other options to choose from.


Additional offerings include a Chick-fil-A stand, selling their signature chicken sandwiches and lemonade, a Fuddruckers stand, selling burgers, and a Shipley’s Do-Nuts stand, with all manner of fried, sugary goodness. Perhaps the most unique stand is local fave Miss Patty’s, which sells cheesesteaks and fried catfish.


There are also stands for gourmet popcorn, pizza, chicken fingers, and street tacos; truly anything a sports fan could want is on the metaphorical menu. There is also a tequila bar for those looking to do some serious imbibing during Roughnecks games.


Atmosphere 3

I had the benefit of attending the Roughnecks playoff game, so I can’t 100% say that the atmosphere I got to experience was typical for a regular-season contest. With that being said, what I did experience on my visit was the best atmosphere I’ve seen to date for the XFL.

There were a lot of fans in the parking lots and in the areas surrounding the stadium, which always helps the energy inside. The XFL also had plenty of signage throughout the stadium to add to the atmosphere. Also, sprinkled throughout the stadium, on the main concourse, are several team stores selling all manner of Roughnecks and XFL gear.


Neighborhood 4

TDECU Stadium is located right in the middle of the University of Houston’s campus. It is within walking distance of both the Fertitta Center and Schroeder Park, home to the school’s basketball and baseball teams, respectively. If you time things out right, you can probably catch one or more of these other teams in action, as both are in season with the Roughnecks.


Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S. That said, there are a multitude of additional entertainment options to choose from, especially on the sports side. The reigning MLB World Series champion Houston Astros and two-time NBA champion Houston Rockets both call (naturally) Space City their home. Like their collegiate counterparts, both teams’ seasons overlap with the Roughnecks.


Outside of sports, Houston has a lot to offer visitors. From culture and history to zoos, aquariums, and shopping, Houston has it all. No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find something to do either before or after a Roughnecks game.


In terms of dining and lodging, the options around UH’s campus aren’t going to be five-star or gourmet choices. However, Houston proper (especially downtown) has something for every taste and budget. In the immediate vicinity, for dining you can find a couple of fast-casual options – these include Eric’s Restaurant, which offers up sandwiches, wraps, salads, and fish options. Also close by is Frenchy’s Chicken, a darn good fried chicken spot.


Fans 3

The crowd at TDECU Stadium was quite impressive during my visit. Lots of folks came out decked in Roughnecks gear – as well as Oilers and Astros gear. There was also a decent number of Arlington Renegades fans, which helped make the energy even more palpable.


The Roughneck fans in attendance did a good job of making this feel like a big-time game. They were loud and engaged the whole game through. It was by far the best crowd experience I’ve seen to date among the XFL games I attended this season.

Access 4

The University of Houston campus and TDECU Stadium are located in the middle of a triangle of highways and freeways, namely Interstates 45 and 610, and state highway 69. This makes it imminently reachable from anywhere in Space City. The campus is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from San Antonio, four hours from Austin, and just under four hours from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.


It is also just a 40-minute drive from George W. Bush Intercontinental Airport and about 20 minutes from William P. Hobby Airport. Both are massive and have flights in and out of H-Town to sites across the globe non-stop.


Once you’re on campus, parking is plentiful in the many lots around the athletic complex, including a covered parking garage directly across from TDECU Stadium. The costs will run you $25 to $40, depending on how close you want to get to the stadium.


The Houston METRORail also features a stop just outside TDECU Stadium, so if you choose not to drive, this is a great option. I say this with my usual caveat when it comes to Houston; if you’re going to drive to a Roughnecks game, build in time to accommodate for Houston traffic – you will be in it for some time, so plan accordingly.


Return on Investment 3

Single-game tickets for the Houston Roughnecks start at $27 per person. This is a pretty good bargain for professional football. Parking is a little bit on the high side (costing as much as $40); however, there are cheaper options if you seek them out.


Also on the plus side, the concession costs still retain their University of Houston price points; some options are higher end, but there are plenty of bargains to be had.


Extras 3

One of the issues I’ve had with the XFL as a whole this season is their lack of pageantry. I think that football games are events and should be treated as such. I have reconciled the XFL’s lack of pomp and circumstance with the probable need to keep budgets under control.


All that being said, the Roughnecks did a much better job compared to other XFL teams I have seen. For example, Houston has two pseudo-mascots dressed as roughnecks patrolling one of the end zones, interacting with the crowd, and waving a Houston Roughnecks flag in celebration of scores.


There also seemed to be more XFL signage here, in addition to having a local high school marching band perform at halftime. The Roughnecks have a lot of room for growth and improvement, but this was a decent start.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I’m glad the XFL made its return, and I’m hopeful that some of the lessons learned from this season can be implemented for another year. Games at TDECU Stadium have always been enjoyable, and this was no exception.


If you’re a football fan, the more of it you can consume – especially in person – the better. The Roughnecks put a pretty good product on the field, and TDECU Stadium is a great venue. If you’re in Space Town for the next XFL season, catch a game if you can.


Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.

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