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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Originally called the Texas Bowl back in 2006, Meineke became the title sponsor for 2011, changing the name of the bowl to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. Since 2010 the bowl has been played between middle tier Big 10 and Big 12 schools, with the 2011 game pitting the Northwestern Wildcats against the Texas A&M Aggies. The game is hosted at NRG Stadium which is home of the NFL Houston Texans and is a more than ample location for a bowl game. The Bowl advocates have been pretty good about hosting one of the local Texas Big 12 schools for this game which always makes for a pretty good size crowd.
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When you head to NRG Stadium for the Car Care Bowl you will notice that not as many stadium concessions are open as there are at the Texans games, however there are still plenty of options. You will find an array of options from chopped beef sandwiches, nachos grande, corn dogs, hamburgers, etc., as well as a variety of Coca-Cola products and alcoholic beverage choices. Unfortunately for fans the prices don't decrease any for this game from the NFL prices so expect to fork out some dough if you're real hungry or thirsty.
Even though the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas is between two teams in the middle of the pack in their conferences that doesn't take anything away from the atmosphere. The atmosphere for the game is great and even though NRG Stadium might be a tad big for this type of game, the closed roof helps keep the noise in making for a rowdy location. Since College Station is only an hour and a half from Houston, Aggie fans were there in abundance and made this game almost a home game for the Aggies. The atmosphere may not be BCS bowl quality but it makes the Meineke Car Care Bowl definitely worth checking out.
Houston is the biggest city in Texas and 4th largest city in the United States and definitely provides an ample amount of options for things to do. NRG Stadium may not be in downtown Houston like its Houston siblings Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center but there are still plenty of great options nearby.
My favorite nearby option is Ruchi's which is an excellent Tex-Mex place located off of Main. They give you a great amount of food and at a fair price. I highly recommend Ruchi's fajitas and guacamole which I think is some of the best in Houston. A visit to Ruchi's will definitely not leave you disappointed.
Another nearby favorite of mine is Mama's Oven; if Soul food is your cup of tea then this is your place. Mama's Oven has all your soul food favorites like pork chops, meat loaf, greens, and sweet potatoes. The prices I think are more than generous and the customer service is always top notch, which makes a trip to Mama's Oven always worth it.
The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas selection committee has been good about picking one of the more local Texas teams to play in the bowl since they took over which makes for a Texas size crowd. The 2011 game brought in many of the College Station rowdies making the fan base a majority of Aggies. The fans were great throughout the game cheering on the Aggies and there were even Texas Longhorn fans to play devil's advocates. Overall the Meineke Car Care Bowl provides a great fan base, but if you're a non Texas team be ready for hostile territory.
NRG Stadium isn't downtown like its Houston counterparts, but that can be an advantage as traffic is a little less congested. I was pleasantly surprised that traffic for the Meineke Car Care Bowl was not nearly as bad as it is for Texans games. Parking will cost you anywhere from $10-$25, depending on how close you want to be to the stadium. I recommend getting a parking pass before showing up to ease the decision making process and ensure that you have the spot you want.
You will find tickets for the Meineke Car Care Bowl range anywhere from $25-$100, depending on exactly where you would like to sit at NRG. Luckily for fans, NRG Stadium doesn't really have any bad seats so I would recommend just paying the $25 for a seat. Unfortunately you're going to be paying more for parking and food if you plan on consuming anything inside NRG, so you may as well save a bit on the ticket itself. Overall it's not a real bad deal, but to watch two mid tier teams, I think it is a tad on the expensive side.
The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas gets one point for hosting their game at NRG Stadium, this place is a must-see beauty for any football fan.
My second point goes to the Meineke Car Care Bowl committee for choosing local Texas teams to play in this bowl; it not only helps the fan base but also makes for a great trip for local alumni.
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3202 S. Loop West at Main
Houston, TX 77025
9295 Main St
Houston, TX 77025
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