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Official Review by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Tudor Fieldhouse is a multi-purpose arena located on the Rice University campus. The campus is on the south side of Houston, and the fieldhouse is home to the Rice University basketball and volleyball teams. Originally constructed in 1950, the venue was named Rice Gymnasium in 1960, and kept that name until 2007, when former Rice alum Bobby Tudor and his wife made a seven million dollar donation to renovate the arena. In honor of that donation, the university renamed the facility the Tudor Fieldhouse.
The renovations kept the outer infrastructure of the building while upgrading the inside. The changes included a reconfigured seating arrangement, along with a new scoreboard, new concessions areas, and new restrooms. At the same time, a new student-athlete excellence center, which included the Robert E. and Elizabeth W. Bixby Academic Center, was built between Tudor Fieldhouse and Fox Gymnasium. The center is the new home for the athletics department offices, as well as training and support facilities for Rice athletics programs.
The basketball seating capacity at Tudor Fieldhouse is 5,208 fans, and the court itself is designated "Autry Court." in memory of Mrs. James L. Autry, a descendant of Micajah Autry, a hero of the Battle of the Alamo; Mrs. Autry's daughter donated money to the building fund for Tudor Fieldhouse.
The attendance record for Tudor Fieldhouse was set on March 5, 1992, as 5,680 fans watched the Owls men's basketball team defeat Texas 103-97.
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Tudor Fieldhouse doesn't offer a whole lot of food options at its concessions stands. Also, while there are multiple concessions stands built on the upper level, there is only one concessions stand operating in the arena, located on the main concourse around the corner from the main lobby. However, only having the one stand isn't a big deal, as the venue doesn't have many food and beverage options to begin with.
There are only three main food items; a $7.50 cheeseburger/hamburger, $5.50 hot dog, or nachos at $5 or $6 (depending on if you add chili or not). Chips, pickles, packaged candy, cotton candy, and popcorn round out the rest of the menu, with prices of $2.50 or $3. The concessions stands also serve Coca-Cola products for $4.
An interesting thing here is that the concessions do sell alcohol in the form of beer; for $7 the choices are either a Miller Lite or a craft, Karbach Hopadillo. The concessions rating may be low compared to other venues, but they serve the number of fans very well, and the staff is very pleasant.
The game day atmosphere at Tudor Fieldhouse starts outside the arena with fan face painting and promos outside the entrances. As the doors open an hour before tipoff, fans are greeted in the lobby with free programs, and tables with team posters or other Rice athletics promotions.
As with any college sports program, the heart of the fan base is the current students. Rice basketball has very good support from the student body. The student section and band are both located on the baseline near the opposing team bench, making for interesting conversations, or chants from the students to the visiting team.
The majority of the fans are students, faculty, and alums, but there are also numerous local kids leagues attending the game as well, such as the junior cheerleaders who entertain the crowd at halftime. Rice's own cheerleaders and the Owls mascot are also in attendance, to provide entertainment and keep the crowd cheering during the game. The overall atmosphere is an enjoyable college basketball game, but the small crowd just doesn't give the building a must-see atmosphere.
Rice University is a private research university on a 295-acre campus that is located in the Midtown/Medical Center area of Houston. Houston is the 4th largest city in the country, and downtown is only a few miles from Rice's campus.
The best thing to do is to explore the city for the type of food that you would enjoy. There are plenty of restaurants and attractions near Tudor Fieldhouse, the closest area being Rice Village about a half mile away. Rice Village, also known as "The Village," has been one of Houston's oldest shopping destinations since the 1930s. The area is known for its wide variety of restaurants, nightlife venues, and shopping options. There are numerous chain restaurants here, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Torchy's Tacos, La Madeleine Country French Café, D'Amico's Italian Market Café, Black Walnut Café, and Zoës Kitchen. Little Woodrow's is also a great spot to watch other games or sports on TV, and have a drink before or after the game. In addition, a couple of miles away from campus is Hugo's, which offers authentic Mexican fare with great margaritas; this restaurant is housed in a building that was designed and built in 1925 by Houston's well known architect, Joseph Finger.
The attractions in Houston are as plentiful as the restaurants. Besides Rice University itself, Hermann Park is just down the road; Hermann Park is a historic 445-acre park space that is home to numerous cultural institutions. The park includes the Houston Zoo, Houston Garden Center, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Hermann Park Golf Course; the golf course became one of the earliest desegregated public golf courses in the United States in 1954.
Besides the offerings in Hermann Park, many of Houston's finest museums can be found near the Rice campus. Lodging is available all over the area at various price points, depending on your budget. If you want to stay close to campus, search for lodging in the Houston Medical District. The closest hotels to Rice are less than a half mile away, including Hilton Houston Plaza/Medical Center, Houston Marriott/Medical Center, and Best Western Plaza Hotel Suites.
Rice is a private research university with a total enrollment around 6,000, so the majority of the fans are students, faculty, player's families, and visiting fans and alumni. The Rice students are well represented, and in the past the student body carried the nickname "The Autry Army."
The student section is still the most active group of fans inside the building, as they are on their feet throughout the game with constant chants and heckles near the visitor's bench, making it very tough for the visiting team. The rest of the fans also do their part cheering on the Owls; they are here having fun and enjoying the ballgame, but you won't see any over-the-top craziness, as Rice University hasn't played in the NCAA tourney since 1970.
Rice University is located three miles south of the central downtown business district, and directly across Main Street from the Texas Medical Center. This allows plenty of transportation options to Tudor Fieldhouse such as taxis, Uber, buses, and the metro rail. The athletic department facilities are located on the west end of campus, and can be accessed from either University Boulevard or Rice Boulevard.
Tudor Fieldhouse is a bit hidden on the Rice campus, as there isn't much signage directing fans to the basketball arena. The easiest thing to do is just find Reckling Park (the baseball field), and the building next to it will be Tudor Fieldhouse. There is $5 general parking located at the football stadium parking lot, which is a short walk to the basketball arena.
The lobby doors open an hour before tip-off. The lobby is the only spacious part of the concourse; the concourses are narrow, but seem wide enough because of the small number of fans inside the building. There are plenty of bathrooms, however, which are easy to access. There is also plenty of signage on the lower concourse directing you to your seat, but fans seated in the 200 level could find it a little more difficult, as there isn't very good signage directing fans to the stairwell leading to the 2nd level.
The 200 level concourse has a tighter feel than the lower tier because there is no open lobby. The only bad seats inside Tudor Fieldhouse are those directly above the nets; the seats on the baselines are in the balcony over the court, so the first row is looking down on the backboard.
Rice basketball ticket prices range from $12 for upper baseline to $30 for midcourt seats. These prices are a little above the average for other Conference USA members, yet the intimate setting of Tudor Fieldhouse raises the return on investment, because there is just something special about watching basketball in an "old school" gymnasium.
Tudor Fieldhouse brings the "old school" gymnasium feel to modern day college basketball. The intimate building gives you a great up-close and personal look at Division 1 college basketball, however, here at Rice it is about more than just basketball. All basketball arenas have banners recognizing the athletics accomplishments of the school, but Rice University stresses the importance of higher education, with banners above the court recognizing their scholars, from Nobel Peace Prize recipients to Rhodes Scholars.
Most sports fans won't have Tudor Fieldhouse on their list of venues to visit, but the fans that do come to this throwback type of building get to see an up-close look at some top level college basketball. If you are in the Houston area, the Rice University campus is a wonderful get away from the city feel of being in the nation's 4th largest city, and should include a game at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Member Review by pderrick
On the south side of Houston is the fairly newly renovated Tudor Fieldhouse, which is home to the Rice University basketball team. Rice has never been known as a basketball powerhouse and you probably haven't heard of any players that have made the NBA from Rice, but don't let that fool you because a trip to Tudor Fieldhouse is a must if you're in the area.
Tudor Fieldhouse was originally built back in 1960 and was then called Rice Gymnasium, but former Rice alum Bobby Tudor made a multi-million dollar donation to renovate the arena and the university renamed it in 2008 after the renovations.
The Fieldhouse can currently seat just over 5,200 fans and it does so with not only plenty of comfort but also great sightlines to the court. The court is called Autry court after a descendant of Micajah Autry, a hero of the Battle of the Alamo, who donated money for the building fund of Tudor Fieldhouse.
The student section, which is surprisingly one of the craziest sections in college basketball, is called the Autry Army and attends every home college basketball game. Coach John Calipari called this student section the "Blue Army of Death" during his coaching days at Conference USA rival Memphis.
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