NRG Stadium – Houston Texans
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
NRG Stadium One Reliant Park Houston, TX 77054
Year Opened: 2002
Houston Texans – NRG Stadium
At the close of the 1996 NFL season, the Houston Oilers left the Space City for the rolling hills of Tennessee, eventually settling in Nashville and becoming the Tennessee Titans. For the next half-decade, the fourth-largest city in the United States was without professional football. However, in 2002 the NFL made its return in the form of the Houston Texans.
Starting in their inaugural season, the Texans have called the now NRG Stadium their home. Casting a large shadow over the Oilers former home the fabled Houston Astrodome, NRG Stadium is the centerpiece of the entertainment district known as NRG Park. The Texans have proven to be a hit with the local fans and have experienced a modicum of success on the field.
The team won their division in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Players such as J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson are mentioned as being some of the best at their positions in recent NFL history. After a run of misfortune, though, optimism is high once again in H-Town after several high draft picks. Read on to learn more about NRG Stadium.
Food & Beverage 5
Going to an NFL game is usually akin to going to a Las Vegas-style buffet. There is every manner of food and drink anyone could want at the dozens of kiosks and stands located on every level of the stadium – this includes multiple chain options such as Fuddrucker’s Hamburgers, Killen’s Texas Barbecue, Papa John’s Pizza, and Antone’s Famous Po’Boys.
There are also multiple stands offering up traditional game day fare, such as popcorn (the Cheetos Popcorn is excellent, by the way), nachos (loaded and unloaded), pretzels, hot dogs (regular, footlong, and chili), chicken finger baskets, ice cream (including ice cream sandwiches and ice cream with churros), and more.
For adult beverages, there are numerous spots where you can grab a beer, some wine, or a cocktail. Spots to look out for include the Bud Light Lounge, Bud Light Cantina, and the Crown Royal Saloon. Both are open to all fans.
The Texans put a lot of effort into their game-day atmosphere. There is always tailgating in the parking lots, and they have what amounts to a carnival in the area surrounding the entrances with games, food trucks, a drumline, and more.
All through the stadium there are numerous spots for photo opportunities for fans. On every level of the stadium, these spots attract people and are great reminders of the experience. Visitors should also be on the lookout for the Texans Ring of Honor and championship banners which hang from the rafters. You can also visit the numerous team shops throughout the stadium for your Texans gear.
I’ve mentioned in multiple reviews how much there is to do in Bayou City. Houston is the most cosmopolitan of all the cities in Texas and, as such, it is chock-full of things to do, places to stay, and food to eat.
Near NRG Park there are plenty of options for lodging; many are within walking distance of the stadium. For example, the Wyndham Houston near NRG Park/Medical Center and the Wingate Houston near NRG Park/Medical Center are literally across Kirby Drive from the stadium and less than five minutes from two of the four entry gates. There are, of course, numerous other options that are within 10-15 minutes; depending on your budget, you’re sure to find something close by.
For dining options, more of the high-end places will be found downtown and near the Galleria. However, there are plenty of places to choose from in the immediate area around NRG Stadium. One such spot is Mama’s Oven, a Southern/soul food staple that is one of the more highly regarded of its kind in the Houston area.
Serving up smothered pork chops, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese, among other dishes, will fill you up for sure before or after Texans games. Pappas Bar-B-Q is also near the stadium – one of the chains of Pappas family restaurants, This fast-casual barbecue spot is a good representation of Texas ‘cue.
In terms of activities, there is a great abundance of world-class green spaces in Houston. These are especially popular as the calendar moves well into fall and winter during the football season as the weather cools down.
The crown jewel of city parks in H-Town is Herrmann Park; donated by oilman and philanthropist George H. Herrmann, the 445-acre park is home to many of Houston’s signature attractions (e.g., the Houston Zoo, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Miller Outdoor Theater). It is also a miniature train that runs through the park, a golf course, water features, and tons more.
The Texans are an enigma in the NFL, as the fan base is relatively contained within the confines of Harris County, where Houston is home. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Texans fan out-of-state, and even more hard-pressed to find one outside of the county, as the rest of the state is virtually owned by the fans of that team in Dallas.
With that being said, the team draws close to 68,000, which is right around the middle of the pack for the NFL. The fans that do attend games at NRG Stadium are a passionate bunch, though. The tailgating starts early; the fans come decked out and they are loud. It is still very much the “little brother” in the state, but that gives fans a chip on their shoulder when rooting for their team.
NRG Stadium is centrally located in the city of Houston and is situated between two major highways Interstate 10 and Loop 610. The massive stadium is easily visible from both highways, and signage marks the stadium along the way. One of the city’s major thoroughfares, Kirby Drive, runs parallel to the stadium; from there you will find many of NRG Stadium’s parking lots.
If you choose not to drive, the Houston METRORail has a stop right at the stadium. This is a great way to beat the notorious Houston traffic, which gets even worse on game days.
Return on Investment 5
Single-game tickets for Texans games at NRG Stadium start at $77. This is pretty much on par with the rest of the NFL. These types of games are experience; NFL games are events. This is what you’re paying for, and the Houston Texans have done for their fans.
The games are big affairs against the best in professional football. They are spectacles, complete with fanfare (more on that in the next section), atmosphere, and high stakes. What I’m saying is that you get your money’s worth at NRG Stadium.
Like most pro football teams, the Texans put quite a bit into their game-day experiences for fans. The team has a drumline that performs before the game (including on the outside kiosks). They also have an animatronic bull’s head atop the tunnel that the team runs out of – it’s a spectacle.
They also have their cheerleaders, the eponymously named Houston Texans Cheerleaders performing throughout the game. They also have a costumed mascot, Toro, who also performs before the game, during the game, and during breaks in the action – this regularly involves firing off a t-shirt cannon. It’s all standard, but it adds to the atmosphere.
I have always enjoyed my trips to the NRG Stadium. As one of the rare native Texans who did not grow up a Cowboys fan, I always appreciated having an alternative to root for, even if they were in Houston. Having the Texans as part of the league has relieved some of the sting of losing the Oilers all those years ago.
With that said, despite the stadium being over two decades old, it still looks fantastic. There aren’t any bad seats, even in the upper deck. It won’t blow you away with any bells and whistles, but it is still a great experience. I think it’s one every NFL fan should take in at least once.
Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.