As BBVA Compass Stadium turns three (in 2015), the venue has transitioned from a newcomer on the Houston metro scene to a staple of the downtown experience. Constructed specifically for a professional soccer environment, BBVA Compass Stadium not only serves as home pitch for the Houston Dynamo of the MLS and the Houston Dash of the NWSL, but has hosted several other marquee international matchups including the El Salvador and Mexico match (among others) and the U.S. women’s national team. The venue continues to serve as the primary home field for Texas Southern football as well.
With the addition of light rail access to the stadium, the Houston Dynamo and the East Downtown (Eado) area is quickly developing into an integral part of the city and community. Though the Dynamo have struggled on the pitch over the last few seasons, fan support remains strong in one of America’s most diverse cities which features a large number of international soccer fans. An MLS matchup with the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium is an experience U.S. soccer fans across the nation should add to their bucket list.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concessions options at BBVA Compass Stadium feature a wide variety and few unique items of high quality. For a stadium of this size, there are quite a few different stands to choose from throughout the concourse. Your options include Texas Fare / Far Post Grill (staple stadium favorites), Papa Johns, Taqueria Los Anaranjados (tacos and Mexican street food), and Bayou City BBQ. In addition to those, you'll find various mobile stands like Fresh Market Salads, beverage carts and a Chill (frozen lemonade) cart. With variety and quality, however, do expect professional sports ranged prices. Hot dogs start at $7.50, cheeseburgers are $8.50, and popcorn is $6. The extreme prices are the only thing keeping the score here from being a 5.
One of the more unique options you'll come across are the Korean tacos at the Taqueria Los Anaranjados stand. These tacos are made with marinated beef in a heavy Asian-spiced sauce, topped with a slaw and cucumbers, and served in a double-layered corn tortilla.
From the same stand you can also get Elote Con Queso. To non-Spanish speakers this may seem like a pretty complex name but it translates simply as corn with cheese. This item is a delicious roasted ear of corn and with a cream cheese-styled topping that's hit with some Mexican spice.
You can't go wrong with the variety of drink options either. You'll have the usual beer options for both domestics and imports. Catching on the craft beer craze, BBVA has a craft beer cart which includes brews like Saint Arnold Amber Ale, Karbach Hopadillo and Weisse Verssa. A Dynamo Rita cart which offers up margaritas and wine is another option available to you throughout the various stands. Soda options are unique as well, with the old classic RC Cola headlining the menu. Other options include 7-Up, Dr. Pepper, Sunkist and Big Red.
BBVA Compass Stadium is an sharp looking stadium and provides a great game day atmosphere for Dynamo fans. The design allows for the Dynamo orange color to be featured around the bottom of the stadium and topped with a metal mesh structure which celebrates the industrial heritage of the East End area. The skyline is visible above the stadium from the west side looking east. As a bonus, the stadium is also a leader in energy and environmental design having received certification of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver from the United States Green Building Council.
The seating area is a square bowl style with seats wrapping around the entire playing surface. The west, east, and south sides are provided partial shade by an overhead covering. Though an optional feature in other communities, the shade is a requirement for fans to seek shelter from the overwhelming southeast Texas heat. Two tiers of seating wrap around the entire seating area with the smaller strip on the bottom and the majority of seats above. Between the two tiers of seats are 34 private suites and 1,100 club seats on the east and west sides. The playing surface is natural Tifway 419 Bermuda grass and is kept in exceptional shape. The main video scoreboard is located in the center of the north side above the seating area and measures 25 foot by 40 foot with LED high definition. There are also two smaller screens on each side of the south end line.
There's a ton of banners and pride on display within the stadium. Hanging from the rafters of the south side overhang are banners recognizing the 2006 and 2007 Western Conference championships, the 2011 and 2012 Eastern Conference championships, and of course the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup championships. As you walk through the concourse, you'll see great wall art memorializing important moments in Dynamo history. Adding to the overall atmosphere are the Dynamo Girls, the squad's official dance team, and Dynamo Diesel, the official team mascot.
BBVA Compass Stadium is located on the East End of downtown Houston in an area known as Eado (East Downtown). Eado continues to grow as part of Houston's sprawling downtown scene. As the city continues to invest heavily in downtown apartment construction, areas like Eado are becoming hot spots for activity beyond game nights. With rail access in front of the stadium, other locations across downtown are a short rail ride away.
Two of the most popular pre and postgame locations in Eado are located just across the stadium: Lucky's Pub and Little Woodrows - Eado. Both venues are overrun with Dynamo fans before and after a match. In the immediate area, there're two venues offering up a taste of Texas-style BBQ. Check out the Eado mainstay Texas Bar-B-Que House just across the stadium on Texas Avenue. A newcomer to the scene, Jackson Street Barbecue, is located within walking distance just across 59 on the northeast side of Minute Maid Park. Though themed more for Astros game nights, Home Plate Bar and Grill is another great pre and postgame spot that also offers up filling meals.
There's plenty to do in the immediate area as well. If you're in town with the family, Discovery Green is a great downtown park with a splash-pad and green space. Warehouse Live offers live concerts and comedy shows directly across from BBVA Compass Stadium. For the art lovers or a change of pace from the sports scene, check out the Houston's theatre and museum districts.
The best hotel for a Dynamo game is the Hilton Americas located within walking distance of the stadium. It's also conveniently located next to Discovery Green and, depending on your room location, you'll get a nice view of the downtown skyline.
Houston is a hot-bed for passionate soccer fans. The challenge for the Dynamo is to convert a diverse base of loyal international futbol fans into permanent Dynamo faithful. While the Dynamo has certainly had success over the years bringing home their share of MLS championships, the cupboard has run a bit bare over the last few seasons. Even with an underperforming squad, the Dynamo typically average crowds of 20,000 which is firmly inside the top ten for average attendance in the MLS. Dynamo fans are both loud and proud, and know how to celebrate when a goal sneaks into the net.
Soccer is known worldwide for boisterous fan clubs and the Dynamo follow suit with El Batallon and the Texian Army. These passionate fan groups are located in the southeast corner of the stadium, but we don't really have to tell you that because it will become obvious as soon as you arrive to your seating section. Both clubs sport banners and flags throughout the area and stand, sing, chant, and yell during the entire 90 minutes of play (including several minutes before and after the game). This makes for a great fan atmosphere.
Prior to the game, you'll notice a healthy amount of tailgaters throughout the parking lots around the stadium. Be sure to check out Orange Avenue before heading into the stadium. This pregame party strip opens three hours prior to kick-off and offers drinks, live music, and other activities.
Prior to 2015, access to BBVA Compass Stadium was quite the headache. However, with opening of a new METRORail line with a drop-off point immediately in front of the stadium, access has become a strength of the overall experience. For just a $1.50, you can skip the parking and traffic gridlock and step right into the ticket line. Check out the light rail maps at RideMetro.org prior to game day. If you're planning to drive in, get there early to avoid traffic. The stadium is located just off Hwy 59, which makes it pretty accessible to a major roadway. Parking is available around the stadium, but at a cost which ranges from $20 right next to the stadium to $5 on the outskirts.
As you make your way to the northeast side of the stadium for the ticket booth, expect to hit a bit of a line for will call or to purchase tickets. However, the line is managed well and moves pretty swiftly. There are several entrance gates around the stadium which makes getting inside less of a hassle. Once inside, you'll be welcomed to a very spacious concourse that runs along the outer rim of the seating areas. Seating sections are clearly marked above each entrance point and there're even several maps posted around the concourse to help guide your path. The seating aisles provide for enough room to move around. Concessions are very accessible in the concourse with many different options and quickly moving lines. The items sold at BBVA Compass Stadium are made with the soccer fan in mind knowing that there are very few breaks in action and fans need to quickly return to their seats. The restrooms are spacious, brand new, and kept very clean.
With any professional sports experience comes a rather significant financial investment and an evening at BBVA Compass Stadium is no exception. However, prices are surprisingly affordable for the overall experience. The 200 level sideline seats provide a great view and also protection from the elements under the awning. These seats typically run for about $28 each. You can also score Beer Garden tickets for groups of 10 or more which allows pre-match access to the private Beer Garden at Orange Avenue, two free drinks, and an upper end line seat. Tickets are $25 per person. There are other ticket deals available which help make the experience even more affordable.
Plan to add in some cash ($5-$20) for parking if you don't take the METROrail, as well as a sizeable cost for concessions. When you're dealing with a major professional team, you expect high costs. What's most important is whether the experience is worth the investment. There's no doubt catching a Dynamo game at BBVA Compass Stadium will be a great overall sports experience.
The Dynamo experience at BBVA Compass Stadium includes a good amount of 'extras' which help improve the overall game day atmosphere:
• It's worth mentioning access again in the extras. If I could score the experience a 6, I would. The addition of light rail access makes getting to the game a breeze.
• You'll really enjoy seeing the wall art around the concourse, especially the mural for season ticket holders which lists every name for the active season. It's great to see the Dynamo recognizing their loyal fans.
• You'll notice banners hanging off the awning around the stadium interior which list MLS championships.
• The location of the stadium near downtown Houston is a big plus for the overall experience. There's just something special about catching a glimpse of the skyline from your seats and then pouring out of the stadium to have a local bartender pour you a brew in a nearby pub.
Since 2009, negotiations have been ongoing for a new home for Houston’s MLS franchise; the Dynamo. All the talk finally came to action though as ground broke in February 2011 and on May 12th of 2012 the Dynamo played their first home game at what is now BBVA Compass Stadium. The 22,000 capacity stadium is a huge upgrade from the Dynamo’s prior home of Robertson Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston. BBVA Compass Stadium is exactly what the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup champions needed.
There is little doubt that it was time for the Houston Dynamo and soccer fans in the Houston area to get their own soccer-specific stadium. The former home of Robertson Stadium (which has since been demolished in 2013) left the feeling that MLS soccer in Houston was temporary and not embraced. Though there were many great moments in Robertson Stadium including championship runs, there may have been no sweeter day for soccer fans in Houston than the first official home game at their new soccer-specific stadium on May 12, 2012; a game which featured a 1-0 victory over DC United in front of a sold out crowd of 22,039. An MLS matchup with the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium is an experience U.S. soccer fans across the nation should add to their bucket list.
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