Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Shell Energy Stadium 2200 Texas Ave Houston, TX 77002
Year Opened: 2002
State-of-the-Art Home in Space City
Editor's Note: The venue name change to Shell Energy Stadium in early 2013.
In 2005, Major League Soccer (MLS) announced that the San Jose Earthquakes franchise would be relocating and had chosen the fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston, as their new home. The Houston Dynamo began play in time for the 2006 season, and promptly won the MLS Championship in their first season in Space City. Prior to 2012, the Dynamo were a bit of a vagabond franchise, playing games all over the Houston area, including Reliant Stadium and Corin J. Roberston Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston. In 2010, construction began on a new stadium in downtown Houston specifically for soccer – BBVA Compass Stadium opened in time for the 2012 season, and has consistently been ranked as one of the best soccer-only stadiums in MLS.
Food & Beverage 4
BBVA Compass Stadium does not lack for quality food and beverage options for fans attending Houston Dynamo games. Nearly every food and drink stand and kiosk on the main level has something that goes beyond the standard stadium fare. If you want a hot dog, for example, you can get your traditional plain hot dog for around $8 at multiple stands. However, you can also get a tricked out Diggity Dawg – a Houston-area hot dog purveyor that has restaurants in town – at several stands for $9.25. These dogs come loaded with toppings such as barbecue sauce, chili, peppers, or even come wrapped in bacon. Nachos, another staple of sports stadiums the country over, also get your standard and upscale version at BBVA Compass Stadium games – at the Zamora Street Tacos stand, which sells packs of 2 or 3 street tacos for $12.50; you can buy regular stadium nachos for close to $7, but at the nearby barbecue stand, you can get nachos loaded with shredded brisket for close to $11.
In addition, at almost every stand – including standalone posts throughout the stadium – you can buy premium and domestic beers ($12.75 and $11.25 respectively), and there is also a frozen drink stand near the southeast corner of the stadium. And if you’re looking for something less adult, you can buy souvenir cup sodas for $10 (there is also bottled water and sports drinks available) which would pair great with the bottomless buckets of popcorn for $10. In short, there are tons of options for whatever you’re looking for at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Few sporting events can match the atmosphere that big-time soccer events generally draw. Around the world, some of the most energetic and passionate fan bases flock to the game of soccer/football. Also, Houston is as diverse a city as you will find in the nation, with a large international population. Los Naranjos (The Orange), as the Dynamo are nicknamed by their large and devoted Hispanic fan base, have been able to tap into that energy during home games at BBVA Compass Stadium. From the beginning of the game to the end, Houston Dynamo fans sing, chant, and cheer nonstop for their team.
The interior of the stadium (its exterior is also especially striking due to its unique, angular design) is littered with murals, art, and photos of current and past Dynamo players. Fans in the stands have great sight lines of the action on the pitch no matter where they are sitting – from the highest seats in the top of the bleachers to those sitting up close on the sidelines, everyone has a great vantage point. The energy is palpable from the very second you walk through the entrance gates.
One caveat to take into account is the heat and humidity of the city of Houston. BBVA Compass Stadium is an outdoor venue, and the elements do play into affect when you’re sitting in the stands, but there are swamp coolers in the concourse areas in case the heat does get to you. Regardless, pay attention to temperatures when you plan your visit – especially in the summer months.
Houston is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing cities. BBVA Compass Stadium is located right in the middle of Houston’s thriving downtown. It is within walking distance of Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, and George R. Brown Convention Center. The energy of the area permeates every aspect of downtown Houston. One of the most underrated aspects of the city is the effort that city leaders have made to include urban green spaces in the downtown footprint. No less than three large urban parks are within shouting distance of BBVA Compass Stadium, including Discovery Green. Complete with dog runs, playgrounds, performance spaces, public art, and a skating rink during the winter, the park (celebrating its 10th anniversary during 2018) is truly a great spot to visit, as are Buffalo Bayou Park and Buffalo Bend Nature Park.
In addition, hiking, biking, cycling, and nature watching are all on the table at these parks year-round, and again, all three parks are located right near downtown Houston. The city of Houston has also become famous for its dining, and is high on the list of many foodie traveling destinations. Within walking distance of BBVA Compass Stadium are both Huynh Restaurant – celebrated for its authentic Vietnamese cuisine – and Texas Bar-B-Que House, which does Texas-style barbecue as well as anyone in town. Both of these are great options either before or after Houston Dynamo games.
When it comes to where to stay if you’re visiting Houston, downtown (again) is chock full of options for you depending on your budget. The Hilton Americas-Houston and Marriott Marquis Houston are located adjacent to the Convention Center, and just across Interstate 69 from BBVA Compass Stadium.
The fans have been very receptive to the Houston Dynamo since day one. The stands are littered with orange – t-shirts, capes, scarves, etc. – and the parking lots (lots B and C) which front the stadium are frequently filled with tailgaters before home games. Last season (2017), the Houston Dynamo ranked 17th overall in the MLS for fan attendance, with an average draw of 17,500 fans per game; when you take into account that BBVA Compass Stadium holds just over 22,000, it is easy to see how the crowd’s boisterousness can become infectious.
There are currently four officially recognized supporter groups of the Houston Dynamo: the Texian Army, La Bateria, Brickwall Firm, and El Batallón. These groups have banners hanging from the stands, and are often the catalysts for the chants which permeate the crowd for the duration of games.
The passion of the fans is undeniable, and you won’t be able to help but be caught up in their enthusiasm when you make your visit to BBVA Compass Stadium.
Getting to Houston Dynamo games is remarkably simple considering the legendary traffic issues that are a hallmark of the city of Houston. Parking is ample in the downtown neighborhoods around BBVA Compass Stadium, and can be purchased for as low as $9 on game nights. Alternatively, lots B and C, which are directly in front of the stadium, charge $25 for parking on game nights.
You can get to BBVA Compass Stadium easily by car using Interstate 69 – this highway runs right in front of the venue, and you can easily see the facility from the highway for several miles. However, if you’re staying near the downtown area and don’t want to drive you can take the METRORail light rail system. The trains crisscross the city and have numerous stops. On game nights for both the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash, fans can ride the rail for free by showing their game tickets.
For those from far out of town, George Bush Intercontinental Airport is one of the largest and busiest airports in the country. Flights come in from all over the world, and the downtown area is easily accessible if you are looking to fly in for a game at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Return on Investment 2
Attending Houston Dynamo games can honestly get a bit expensive if you want to “do it up” at BBVA Compass Stadium. Single-game tickets range from $29 to $109 if you purchase directly from the club, and the prices for parking and concessions have been mentioned, but you have options in those areas.
For all intents and purposes, the cost for Houston Dynamo games at BBVA Compass Stadium is on par with those in the MLS and with the rest of Houston’s professional sports franchises. Take that into account when you plan your visit.
In addition to the supporter groups, there are quite a few extras at games at BBVA Compass Stadium. For example, the Houston Dynamo run an in-game lottery where fans can purchase tickets and raise the overall pot before a winner is randomly selected before the end of the second half – for one lucky fan, a Dynamo game could be a great chance to take home upwards of several thousand dollars depending on how many tickets are purchased.
There is also one main team store located near the main entrance to BBVA Compass Stadium, and there are several smaller ones located throughout BBVA Compass Stadium in case you want to purchase some Houston Dynamo swag during the game. The team also has a unique mascot in their human-sized fox, Dynamo Diesel. The mascot was unveiled in 2007 after a contest was held by Art Institute of Houston students. The mascot patrols the sidelines for the duration of the game, and is known to fire off t-shirts into the crowd, especially during the half.
One last bit of fun to check out at BBVA Compass Stadium is the Dynamo sign located off of Texas Street near the main entrance. Fans get the chance to take pictures with the sign and serve as the “Y,” when shared on social media, these photos are often recognized on the jumbotron during games.
Flat out, BBVA Compass Stadium is a beautiful venue for soccer. The sight lines are perfect, the energy is palpable, and the food and drink selections are top notch. Also, Houston is one of the great cities in the United States, and offers a tremendous opportunity for visitors to take in the sights and flavors.
If you are in town for a visit, make sure you build in enough time to take in as much as possible either before or after a Houston Dynamo game. And if you’re a fan of the “beautiful game,” add BBVA Compass Stadium to your wish list of soccer venues to visit.