Javelina Stadium – Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelinas
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Javelinas Stadium 1200 N Armstrong St Kingsville, TX 78363
Year Opened: 1950
Home Field Advantage Means More at Javelina Stadium
History and heritage have deep roots in the city of Kingsville, Texas. A tradition of farming and ranching built the community. It continues to grow thanks in large part to Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK). Founded in 1925, the athletics department launched a football program shortly afterward in 1929. Since that time, the Javelinas have become one of the most dominant Division II programs in the country.
As competitors in the NAIA, the Javelinas won seven National Championships. Since moving to the Lone Star Conference, they have won 22 conference titles and made 27 appearances in the playoffs. The school has also produced an incredible three members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Darrell Green, John Randle, and Gene Upshaw.
Javelina Stadium has seen the vast majority of the program’s success. The team moved into the new on-campus facilitiy in 1950 and – according to the Javelinas Athletic Department – the home team has compiled a staggering 230-62-2 record at the facility. They have had 14 perfect seasons at home, and from 1967-1970 the Javelinas went a perfect 23-0 at Javelina Stadium; from 1974-1976 the Javs went 20-0. The stadium has become the heart and soul of the Kingsville community, and a must visit for college football fans in the state.
Food & Beverage 3
Upon first glance, the food and beverage scene at Javelina Stadium might not strike you as being impressive; they play all the hits though. You’ve got your hot dogs and hamburgers ($3.25 and $3.75, respectively), your nachos ($3), and your popcorn and soft pretzels ($2.75 and $3, respectively). They also have fountain drinks and bottled water and sodas – no alcohol.
However, if you dig a little farther, you’ll find a couple of pretty nifty non-traditional stadium items that fit right in. For $8, you can get the staple of fairs and festivals across the country: smoked turkey legs; these ginormous hunks of gobbler meat lend themselves perfectly to the on-field action. Another sneaky good item, churros – for a mere $2, you can get an order of three of these sweet treats.
There is one main concessions stand near the home team entrance and a smaller cart selling most of the same items. They do take cash and credit cards, but tend to have long lines due to their locations, so keep that in mind when you make a grub run.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of atmosphere at Javelina Stadium – smaller schools like TAMUK can be hit or miss in this area; their success on the field directly translates to what is experienced in the stands and outside the stadium. Well, that is exactly what is happening in Kingsville. The tailgate scene outside Javelina Stadium is – in a word – insane! RVs and tents are stacked up for a solid block around the stadium. The crowds are awash in the blue and yellow of the home team and there is a palpable energy that buzzes from the parking lot to the stands for the entire game.
There are also a couple of great additions to the game atmosphere that make the experience even more special, for example, the old-school howitzer cannon, manned by the TAMUK JROTC, that is fired off after every Javelinas score.
In the south end zone, there are also bleachers and a play area set up for the young fans. There is also a VIP section in the north end zone where a wooden deck is set up with tables and lounge chairs, and a lucky group of fans is selected to watch the game from this area each game. What makes the atmosphere great though are the fans.
Kingsville is situated in what is classified as the Texas Gulf Coast Region – palm trees line the streets and seagulls fly overhead year-round. You can smell the salt air and you are instantly transported to a place that most would not associate with Texas. If you make the visit to Kingsville, keep in mind that you are only 30 minutes away from the beach at any given time.
The main attraction of the city is the legendary King Ranch; at its peak, Captain Richard King’s sprawling monument to the cattle industry covered over one million acres and was larger than the state of Rhode Island. These days, it covers a “mere” 825,000 acres and spans six counties in the area. A visit to the King Ranch is like taking a trip in a time machine back to the era of cowboys and cattle drives – it is still a working ranch and offers daily guided tours. King Ranch is hands down the number one attraction in the city.
Since Javelina Stadium is on the TAMUK campus, there aren’t many facilities nearby that aren’t associated with the school. However, there are a few pretty tasty options for dining close by – two in particular really play up the local cuisine of the region. Mariachi’s House of Burgers! is a popular spot with the student body; as its name implies, they serve up some tasty craft burgers that are a hit with locals. Another spot where you can get some good Tex-Mex, seafood, or chicken fried steak is South Texas Hole in the Wall. It’s a bit farther from the actual football stadium, but you can still get there pretty easily either before or after the game.
Javelina Stadium has one of the highest attendance rates in the Lone Star Conference. The fans show out in force for Javs games as it is truly an impressive sight to see this spacious stadium jam-packed with rabid fans in blue and yellow. From the moment you walk up Armstrong Street and see the massive tailgate scene, you know this is going to be different from your typical small college scene.
This is a rowdy, loud bunch but that makes the games just that much more exciting – unless you are a fan of the visiting team, of course. But in my opinion what makes the fans even more fanatical is that TAMUK is truly the only game in town. Kingsville has a population of just over 26,000; it’s not a big city but it’s also not a tiny town. Alum or not, this city loves its team and they show out at Javelina Stadium.
The city of Kingsville is just a shade over a two-hour drive from San Antonio, and just a little over half an hour from Corpus Christi. These are the two biggest cities in the area, and it is a pretty straightforward drive south on Interstate 37 (from San Antonio) or State Highway 77 (from Corpus Christi). Just FYI, as someone who has made this drive more times than I can count, it is not the most picturesque trip.
At Javelina Stadium itself parking is a finite commodity. If you get there early you should be okay to find a spot, and parking in the stadium lot is $10. However, there are spots where you can park for a lesser fee (or even for free) in the neighboring area; you just have to be willing to look a little. Give yourself some time as Armstrong Street can become congested near game time.
Return on Investment 4
To be quite honest, game tickets at Javelina Stadium are a pretty incredible bargain – you can get general admission seating tickets for $10 to $18 at most home games. This is a really good bargain when you consider the success that the team has had on the field. If you couple that with the low concessions costs and the potentially free parking, football fans should not miss an opportunity to take in a Javelinas game.
Here we go – this is the area where Javelina Stadium really puts on the pomp and circumstance. The Javelinas check all the boxes in terms of traditional trappings of college football; they have their costumed mascots Porky and Baby, the Pride of South Texas Marching Band, and of course they have their cheerleaders and dance team. But there is more.
A Ride with Porky, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Before you enter the stands there is a monument park complete with a statue of their legendary head coach Gil Steinke. Steinke led the Javs to 39 consecutive wins and six NAIA football national titles, including three in a row from 1974 to 1976. It is a popular spot for selfies for longtime Javelina fans.
The Javs also boast a live version of Porky – Porky III. During games, he resides in a glass-walled caboose that is part of a kiddie train. The train is loaded up with kids from the south end zone who become part of Porky’s Pack; they ride the track that rings the field throughout the game. Personally, I don’t think you can beat having a live mascot as part of your tradition. It’s also great seeing young fans be able to see an animal like a big ole javelina up close for the first time.
Leading the Javs out of the inflatable tunnel is the Javelina Chopper. This souped-up, TAMUK colored bike adds its roar to that of the home crowd and is a pretty great addition to the pageantry of the games.
I personally had a great experience at Javelina Stadium. It’s got a great old school aesthetic to it and the vibe is incredible. For this level of college football, I have a hard time envisioning a better venue to watch a game. It’s got all the look and physical feel of a high school stadium, but the atmosphere of big-time college ball. If you’re a football fan and are traveling in and around South Texas, add Javelina Stadium to your bucket list of game experiences.