Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43
Shell Energy Stadium 2200 Texas Ave Houston, TX 77002
Year Opened: 2012
State-of-the-Art Home in Space City
Note: The stadium name changed from BBVA Compass Stadium to Shell Energy Stadium in Jan, 2023.
In 2013 the Houston Dynamo welcomed the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and its newest franchise, the Houston Dash, to BBVA Compass Stadium. The team ushered in a new era of professional sports not just in Space City, but in the State of Texas. The Dash began playing the following season and have steadily built a strong and passionate fan base ever since.
With its vast and diverse population, Houston has proven to be the perfect breeding ground for the game of soccer. While the women’s game lags a little behind, judging by the success the Dash have had in attracting fans it is only a matter of time before women’s soccer here takes that next step in popularity; the fact that they will be able to accomplish it from the friendly confines of the state-of-the-art BBVA Compass Stadium is just icing on the metaphorical cake.
Food & Beverage 2
When the Dash play at BBVA Compass Stadium, one of the first things you’ll notice is that many of the facilities normally open during Dynamo games are not available; this is especially noticeable in terms of concessions. Many of the food and beverage kiosks are closed during Dash games, which limits you in terms of selection.
What there is though should be enough to satisfy the hunger of anyone who attends; all the open concession stands are located on the main concourse level. If you’re looking for traditional stadium fare, right off the bat you can hit up Diesel’s Corner where hot dogs ($3), nachos ($4), popcorn, and candy are all on the menu. Or, there is also a Papa John’s Pizza kiosk that serves pizza by the slice.
Another main draw in terms of concessions is the Heineken Red Star bar at the north end of the stadium; this is a full-service bar that, as can be imagined, is quite popular throughout matches.
You cannot help but notice that many of the amenities, including the second deck of the stadium, are closed during Dash games. This unfortunately hurts the overall atmosphere of games, as even a large crowd tends to feel overwhelmed by the emptiness of the stadium.
That being said, the Dash do a good job filling the lower section and encouraging fans to partake in all of the tropes and trappings of the sport of soccer. You’ll see countless orange soccer scarves, there will be chanting throughout the match, and there is a palpable buzz emanating from the end zone where the fan clubs sit.
BBVA Compass Stadium is located in the middle of downtown Houston, within eyesight/walking distance of Minute Maid Park, so if you plan your visit on the right weekend you might be able to catch an Astros game as well. This is also a really vibrant area of the city, and is quite frankly a great place to spend time before and after Dash games.
As an example, directly catty corner to the main entrance of BBVA Compass Stadium is one of the most popular barbecue restaurants in the city, Texas Bar-B-Que House. This place fills up fast on game nights, so you might have to wait to get your brisket or your ribs. Also, directly behind the stadium there are a couple of spots that are just flat out cool, for lack of a better word. The Truck Yard is an awesome outdoor food park, complete with live music, a beer garden, and even a Ferris wheel – it has to be seen to be believed.
For those of the 21 and over crowd, make sure you stop by 8th Wonder Brewery. With a wide selection of award-winning craft beers and a healthy dose of Houston-centric nostalgia (the brewery is named for the fabled Astrodome), this is a great spot to hang out before or after Dash games.
The Dash currently average a shade over 3,800 fans per game this season, which has them ranked near the bottom of the NWSL in terms of attendance. However, that number is still pretty impressive when stacked against other minor league sports, and the fans that do come out to Dash games come out fully loaded! There is orange everywhere in the stands and in the fan club section, and there is also a drum corps that beats out tunes the entire game.
Personally, I think one of the best reasons to be hopeful about the future success of the team is the sheer volume of young fans in the stands. Young boys and girls attend Dash games in abundance, and there is no better way to grow a fan base and a sport than to get fans interested while they’re young; I believe the Dash get this.
BBVA Compass Stadium is located right in the heart of Houston’s downtown. Because of this, it is both extremely easy and at times highly frustrating to get to Dash games. Houston traffic is infamous; you will encounter bumper-to-bumper stoppage on the city’s freeways pretty much 24 hours a day.
The stadium is located almost directly off Highway 69, and there is ample parking all around the stadium. The cost for said parking ranges anywhere from $5 to $25, depending on how far you want to walk. But for those who want to skip the traffic, METRORail Houston has a stop right in front of BBVA Compass Stadium.
Return on Investment 3
Individual tickets for Houston Dash games are a real bargain at just $15 per person. There are also BOGO offers for select games, and kids get in free games during the month of August. Again, I think this is a great way to build a fan base, especially for the young ones.
Concessions prices are pretty much on average with similar sports at this level. You won’t break the bank trying to take the family to Dash games, especially if you don’t mind heading toward the $5 parking. In addition, the NWSL features some of the top players in the sport, and they all come through Houston at one time or another.
There isn’t much offered up in the way of extras during Dash games – aside from the fan clubs, which are fun to watch, the Dash don’t do much else. They do share the same mascot with the Dynamo, however; a human-sized fox named Diesel who patrols the stands during Dash games and makes for a great photo opp for kids.
If you’ve ever gotten caught up watching the Women’s World Cup since its inaugural year in 1991, attending a Dash game is something you should experience. A vast majority of the top stars from the U.S. Women’s National Team have found a spot on one of the rosters of the NWSL, which means they play at least once a season in Houston. For fans of the game, attending a matchup at BBVA Compass Stadium should be something you make a point of experiencing at least once.