Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Elliott T. Bowers Stadium 620 Bowers Blvd Huntsville, TX 77340
Year Opened: 1986
New Orange in the FBS
Fresh off their FCS National Championship in 2020, the Sam Houston Bearkats have now leaped to the big time, joining the FBS for the 2023 season. Though smaller than many D1 football venues, Bowers Stadium offers a great atmosphere for college football, with an almost blinding amount of Bearkats orange on hand.
Food & Beverage 3
Bowers Stadium has fairly basic concessions at stands in the middle on each side of the field – hot dogs, burgers, nachos, and Frito pie are available, as well as snacks such as peanuts, chips, and candy, plus soda, bottled water, and beer. There are also satellite stands along the walkway around the concourse which sell drinks and a few snack items.
The secret item, though, and the best value by far at the facility, is the brisket nachos sold in the Bearkat Pavilion – the deck in the southwest corner. Tasty and filling, these nachos only cost $9, compared to $8 for most of the other main dishes.
The Bearkats have tailgating outside in the parking area, a great student section, a large band and spirit squad, and lots of orange – including the mascot. On the home side, the upper half of the seats are all bright orange chairbacks, all with cupholders, while the lower half are bleacher benches. There is a grass berm next to both sets of stands which is used by a few fans, as well as the best seats in the house, the aforementioned Bearkat Pavilion. Surprisingly not many fans sit up there, which is odd as they are certainly the most comfortable chairs you can find, and only steps away from their own concessions stand.
Bowers Stadium is located about an hour north of Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Huntsville, TX. The on-campus stadium is surrounded by parking lots, Sam Houston’s other athletic fields, and campus buildings. There are a few fast food restaurants nearby, as well as a Buffalo Wild Wings about three miles away. Huntsville is home to about 45,000 people and is most well-known as the home of Sam Houston, who led the Texian army in the decisive victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, and later became the first president of the Republic of Texas. The university is of course named after him, and there is a giant statue of him along I-45, a few miles south of Bowers Stadium.
Sam Houston has great fans, and most of them show up in orange – the student section is formally known as the Bearkat Student Fan Zone, and they sit in the Kat Kage on the visiting side of the field. The student section may seem a little empty at kickoff, but tons of students will fill in during the first quarter, so it will be pretty full during the second and third quarters. Unfortunately, a lot of the students also tend to leave early, even during a close game.
Overall Bowers Stadium will not sell out for most games, making it a little easier to move around, and letting you sit wherever you want. As their transition to the FBS continues, I expect the fan base to grow.
Bowers Stadium has metal detectors at all entrances (hand wanding, not walk-through scanners) – most home fans enter on the north or west sides, while those on the visitor side/in the student section enter on the north or south. If you enter on the north side, you can walk either to the east or west stands, but if you enter on the south side there are two separate entrances, so you can only go to one or the other. There is no re-entry offered at the venue, so if you want to change sides during the game, you have to walk around the pathway to the north end, as the south end (where the athletics building is) does not connect.
If you come toward Bowers Stadium from the east, the roads and parking lots are all blocked off for those with passes, so you will be routed away from the stadium and will have to loop back around. The better option is to approach from the west or north, and the best place to park is in the tailgating lot right behind the scoreboard. The cost to park here is only $25 (you can pay at the gate, you don’t need to pre-pay) and if you drive around that lot a little you can park a few steps from the gate.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Sam Houston football games are only $10 for general admission, and again you can pay at the door and get a paper ticket (if you don’t buy in advance). This is probably the cheapest ticket you can get in the FBS, and for the atmosphere, I think this is a good return on investment. The concessions may seem a trifle on the high side but are pretty standard for this level of college football, and they are cheaper than you will find at many college football venues nowadays.
They fire off a cannon (courtesy of the ROTC) every time the Kats score, and there is a Bearkats Hall of Fame in the athletics building next to the field.
While this may be not the biggest and worst college football experience in the state of Texas, attending a game at Sam Houston State University is a fun time, and well worth the trip if you are in the Houston or Huntsville area.