Gameday in Austin takes you beyond the normal celebration of university and fall football. As fans flock to the state capital of Texas, the overall experience becomes a celebration of all that makes the Lone Star State great. As you make your way toward Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium, you'll see Texas-style tailgating including wood-fire smokers, cowboy hats, cowgirls in dresses and boots, and state flags flying high. Inside the stadium you'll hear songs about Texas including 'Deep in the Heart of Texas' and the 'Eyes of Texas' and you'll also see the world's largest Texas flag proudly displayed on the field during pre-game. You might even catch a sighting of BEVO, who is not only the university mascot but also a symbol of the historical early Texas cattle drives. If you don't like Texas (and shame on you if that's so) you'll either come to find a new appreciation for the state by the end of the game or you'll be sick of it.
The gathering at DKR began way back in 1924 as Texas hosted Baylor in Memorial Stadium's inaugural game in front of 13,500. Though Texas would lose on that day, the stadium would prove to be one of the greatest home field advantages in all of sports with the Longhorns winning 80% of its home games throughout its history here. As newer stadiums are built across the state, none can match the history of DKR - Texas Memorial and few come close to rivaling her atmosphere.
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".
DKR - Texas Memorial Stadium offers a good variety of quality concession options. Be sure to grab a free game program on your way into the stadium because all of the stands are listed inside along with the sections where each can be located. You'll find everything from classic stadium fare like hot dogs and burgers to pizza, sandwiches, and even a Starbucks. Prices are very fair with hot dogs at $4, nachos at $4.50, and popcorn at $3.50. Other specialty items vary in price but are not as high as you'd expect at a major sports facility.
There are three stands in particular that you should definitely check-out for a bite to eat. The first is the Chi'lantros Korean-Mexican Fusion food truck parked on the open-air concourse at the southeast corner of the stadium. You can get two tacos for $8 and can choose between beef, pork, chicken and tofu. Ask to add Kimchi. Another great stop is Poke-E-Jo's BBQ. It's hard to replicate delicious Texas-style barbecue to meet the demand of football fans on the go, but the sliced brisket sandwich comes through with great quality. If you're looking for a good burger, stop by Hat Creek Grill Works.
Drink options at DKR are headlined by Coca-Cola products and range from $4 to $6. As mentioned, there's a Starbucks inside the stadium to give you a caffeine pick-up. You'll also find a Maui Wowi smoothie stand, Lemon Chill, and Snowie Ice. DKR has a strict no alcohol policy so don't expect to find beer or liquor for sale.
Don't want to miss the action but you're dying of thirst? Flag down mobile vendors walking up and down the aisle for a water.
With a capacity of 100,119, DKR is currently the sixth largest college football stadium in America (2013). The stadium is laid out in a classic horse shoe style with an open end behind the south endzone. There are two levels of seats stretching from the southeast corner around the north endzone and back around to the southwest corner. Bleachers are located just beyond the south endzone and serve as the student section. Above the bleachers is a massive scoreboard known as Godzillatron spanning 7,370 square feet of video display. Godzillatron is certainly an appropriate name and you'll find yourself watching the screen instead of the field at times without even knowing it. The playing surface is artificial FieldTurf.
The best seats in the stadium are, of course, around the 50 yard lines on both the west and east sides. These tickets will be difficult to find and will leave your wallet feeling lighter. You'd think in a stadium as large as DKR that the view from the upper deck will make you squint to see the action. However, there really isn't a bad seat in the stadium. You'll find the best value seats in the southeast corner of the lower deck and the upper deck of the north endzone.
There's been countless songs penned about Texas women and most of them were probably inspired by the Texas cheerleaders and dance team. UT mascots include BEVO (the live longhorn) and Hook 'Em (costumed). The Texas Marching Band is nicknamed the 'The Showband of the Southwest' and dominates the atmosphere with iconic state and school songs. The nation's largest alumni band sits in the northeast corner of the upper level and covers the entire playing surface as they perform during halftime.
Many of the great college football environments are in rural college towns. The University of Texas and DKR - Texas Memorial Stadium come through with a great atmosphere despite being located in the heart of a major city. Both are located in downtown Austin just a few blocks from the State Capitol. Some refer to Austin as 'weird' (especially friends of UT located just east in College Station). And though its meant as a slight, folks in Austin wear the badge with pride. There's no weirder spot in Austin than the famous Sixth Street which delivers a Bourbon Street style environment with bars, live music, and great food lining both sides of the street. You could have a great time spending an entire weekend here alone, but Austin has other things in store for you. Be sure to budget some time to take a tour of the State Capitol and browse state history at the Bullock Texas State History Museum (snap a picture under the massive gold star outside the entrance).
There's many different adventures to be had in Austin, but while in Texas you'd be wise to set out on a barbecue crawl across Austin. Texas Monthly magazine regularly releases a list of the 50 best barbecue joints in Texas (which they claim are also the best in the world -- and its hard to argue their point). Austin received several mentions alone on the 2013 list. Plan to make it into town on Friday for a stop at Stiles Switch for dinner. Get out to Franklin Barbecue around 10am on Saturday to catch a spot in line for what some say is the best BBQ in the world. The wait in line will definitely be worth it. Depending on when the game ends on Saturday, try to make it to Lamberts downtown for dinner. Before you head home, stop in at John Mueller Meat Co. for an early lunch.
Being in a large city there's plenty of lodging options to choose from. The most luxurious and historical stay is undoubtedly at the Driskill, if you have pockets deep enough. A less expensive downtown stay within walking distance of DKR is the DoubleTree Suites.
It's hard to match the pageantry and tradition of Longhorn football fans. Anyone who has watched college football is familiar with the iconic 'Hook 'em Horns' hand signal. It's quite a sight to see a stadium of 100k+ pumping the signal high in unison during the Texas fight song. Speaking of songs, you should brush up on your Eyes of Texas before entering the stadium:
The Eyes of Texas (Sung to the 'I've Been Working on the Railroad' tune) Here's a link to a fan video of the song:http://youtu.be/YBroE0cHUEQ
The Eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day. The Eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away! Do not think you can escape them, at night 'til early morn'. The Eyes of Texas are upon you, 'til Gabriel blows his horn.
Fan are knowledgeable, passionate, and most will stand throughout the entire game.
While being in a major city like Austin has many benefits, it certainly presents challenges getting to the stadium. There're several parking garages located in the area but expect to pay between $10-$30 to park there. You'll also find parking lots where you can tailgate. Make sure you get in the area and park early in the day.
Unless you've paid a high price for close parking, be sure to wear some comfy shoes for a long walk to the stadium. Again, get there early so you can break up the walk by stopping at various tailgates and shops/restaurants along the way. Access greatly improves as you get to the stadium. There are plenty of access gates to keep the time into the stadium short. The concourses are wide enough to get around without a problem. The aisles in the seating areas, however, are a bit tight. At times, there's only enough room for a single person to pass. There's plenty of restroom facilities as well, so you shouldn't have a problem getting in and out quickly.
If you're looking for an elite college football experience, it's likely you already understand that will come with a price. If you get single game tickets for a conference matchup directly from the box office early in the year, expect to pay $50 and up for a ticket (and maybe more depending on the opponent). Concessions are pretty fairly priced considering the variety and quality. You'll get a free program as you walk into the stadium which is a big plus because its a useful gameday guide. Overall, you'll get what you paid for (an elite college football experience) and feel your money was well spent.
- The gameday program is free! That's right, something other than air that's free inside a stadium! Not only will it not cost you any cash, but it's very useful with gameday activity schedules, concessions locations, seating charts, and much more.
- UT does a great job of honoring great players by prominently displaying retired numbers on the bottom wall between the lower and upper seating tiers. Current retired numbers include: #10 - Vince Young, #12 - Colt McCoy, #20 - Earl Campbell, #22 - Bobby Lane, #34 - Ricky Williams, and #60 - Tommy Nobis.
- UT also proudly displays each conference and national championships. The Longhorns have claimed 4 national championships (1963, 1969, 1970, and 2005)
- In the southeast open-air concourse area stands a statue of stadium namesake, Darrell K. Royal. Royal served as head coach of the Longhorns between 1957 and 1976 winning three of four Texas national championships.
- DKR - Texas Memorial Stadium has several different merchandise booths around the stadium including a full store on the east side.
Over the years the name has changed and renovations have been made, but Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium has been a staple of the Texas Longhorns since 1924. The stadium has delivered a great home-field advantage for the Longhorns, as the team has had an almost 78% win percentage at the stadium, as of the end of the 2010 season. The current official stadium seating capacity of 100,119 makes the stadium the largest football venue by seating capacity in the state of Texas, the largest in the Big 12 Conference, the sixth-largest stadium in the NCAA and the United States, and the ninth-largest non-racing stadium in the world. At the time of this writing, the game I attended on September 3, 2011, was the stadium's largest recorded attendance at 101,624. I will say that this may be due to the Longhorns' newest addition, the Longhorn Sports Network, and the local television blackout because of it. In talking with residents of Austin and the surrounding area, viewing the game live was the only way to watch; I do hope for the residents of Austin that this roadblock will be figured out soon.
Fans are very rude, the stadium is so massive it took a long time to get to our seats at the top, and parking is a nightmare for visitors. There is not a lot for visitors in the immediate area as the stadium is near I-35 and academic buildings.
Too spread out, fans don't get loud, too expensive, only good part is Austin is a great town.
900 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702
1800 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
112 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78711
Austin, TX 78711
303 W 15th St
Austin, TX 78701