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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
As a surprise addition to the Southland Conference in the NCAA Division I – FCS division, the Houston Baptist Huskies began official league play in 2014 at newly minted Husky Stadium. After playing an abbreviated developmental season at both Crusader Stadium (a local high school stadium) and BBVA Compass Stadium (home to the Houston Dynamo), the Huskies have found a home with their new on-campus stadium. There has probably never been less fanfare about the construction of a new Division I football stadium than with Husky Stadium. After you visit the stadium, the reasons will become quickly apparent. In a state known for high school football stadiums with capacities over 20,000, Husky Stadium comes in at a generously listed 5,000 seat capacity with a single strip of aluminum bleachers on only the west side of the field. For those with sports stadium bucket lists, Husky Stadium certainly won’t make the cut as a must see. For traveling Southland Conference visiting fans, the review below should help navigate you to the best possible experience at an extremely underwhelming college football stadium.
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".
Husky Stadium has an acceptable offering of concession options available at two stands, one on each side of the bleachers. The prices for your ballpark classics include $4 for a hot dog, $2 for bottled sodas (Pepsi products) and $4 for popcorn. Outside of the staples, you'll also find a cheeseburger ($6 for single, $10 for double), a grilled chicken sandwich, BBQ beef sandwich, sausage on a stick, nachos, and frito pie. There's also an assortment of snacks from candy, chips, pickles and cotton candy. Though your basics are covered, the concessions menu lacks a signature item. Your best option is probably the cheeseburger.
The location of the stadium is certainly unfortunate. You'll likely find it impossible to overcome the view of the CVS directly beyond the field on the east side of the stadium. It dominates the landscape from midfield through the end zone. On the bright side, if you need to get a prescription filled during the game or pick up some aspirin and a pack of cigs, you're in luck.
Another major negative on the atmosphere is only having bleachers along the west sidelines. If you didn't already know, everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, except for Husky Stadium, apparently. Not only is there a single strip of bleachers, but they are aluminum bleachers at that. Visually, the entire stadium setup is a major negative.
As a new program, you will likely notice a heightened sense of excitement. This is especially true for the annual homecoming game since it serves as a new tradition for a university that hasn't had a football team historically. However, don't expect a Division I level crowd or sound level.
HBU does provide the spirit staples with a small marching band, cheerleaders, and dance team. There's also a live mascot, Kiza the Husky. One of the few noteworthy experiences is the unique touchdown celebration in the student section. When the Huskies score, rolls of toilet paper are thrown in the air and throughout the adjacent sections.
Though the Huskies are located in a major city, the neighborhood in the immediate area surrounding the university, Sharpstown, isn't really somewhere you want to spend your time before or after the game. There are restaurant options in the immediate area, but I'd recommend making a drive outside of the Sharpstown area to eat and hang out.
Staying in the downtown area will provide many more interesting options and a comfortable environment. For dining, attractions, and lodging options in downtown Houston, check-out our Houston Dynamo review. Another good option is to stay in Sugarland which is located 10-15 minutes southwest of the HBU campus down Hwy 59.
There is a sense of excitement in the stands with a brand new football program, but much is left to become an established fan base. There are few traditions to speak of beyond the toilet paper touchdown toss in the student section and the Husky hand symbol seen at various points throughout the game. The noise level is low and the excitement quickly dissipates as the game progresses. You might expect a new Division I football program to have healthy fan support early on, however, despite only have a capacity of 5,000, the usual attendance level won't come close to a sellout.
Husky Stadium is located immediate off a major freeway in the Houston area, Hwy 59. This gives you quick access to the stadium directly off the freeway. Though this is in many ways a positive, it's also a curse as Hwy 59 is notorious for traffic jams if you're heading to or from the downtown area. You shouldn't have any problem finding parking once you've arrive on stadium, but the closest on-campus lots are a bit of a walk to the stadium.
The ticket area is well staffed and you likely won't run into any lines as you approach the stadium. There's plenty of room both under the stadium in the main concourse and in the walkways and aisles in the seating areas. The restrooms are obviously brand new and very accessible.
Though the price of admission is affordable for a Division I game, it would be really hard to say any visiting fan gets their money's worth at Husky Stadium. There not a single aspect of the game day experience which will be memorable, at least not for positive reasons. What you'll likely walk away with is a better understanding of what the side of a CVS looks like and questions about how HBU was invited to play in the Southland Conference to begin with.
A live mascot, especially one PETA doesn't have to get upset about, is always a neat addition to the game day experience. Kiza the Husky isn't very active, but you can find her on the sidelines with her handler.
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