Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Health and Physical Education Arena 3100 Cleburne St Houston, TX 77004
Year Opened: 1989
Welcome to the Tigers’ Lair
The Texas Southern Tigers have enjoyed an almost unprecedented level of success as a basketball program in the SWAC. Since 1990, the squad from Houston has won six conference titles and made six appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
The squad has done so from the comfort of their home court, the Health and Physical Education Arena. Built in the late 1980s, the arena is the perfect fit for a small-sized school that plays big time basketball.
Food & Beverage 3
This ranking might be a bit unfair. The HPE (as it is known on the P.A. at the arena) has four separate food “kiosks,” one at each corner. As this was the last game of the season, only three were open. The stands that are open only take cash at games, so be forewarned.
Two (three including the closed stand) offer traditional fare like popcorn, chips, candy, and nachos (which you can also add chili to). The closed stand appeared to also offer hot dogs, turkey legs and beer.
The star attraction in the concessions department, however, is the chicken wings. You get a boat/basket full for $8 and they are easily the most popular item as fans queue up in deep waiting lines to get them. Another non-traditional concession favorite is their offering of the Cajun favorite boudain. For $6, you get an order of the sausage treat (still in its casing) and bread.
Also, be sure to make a stop by Mam’s Sno Balls for some sweet treats. These made to order snow cones are also popular among the home crowd.
The atmosphere, as would be expected for a program that has enjoyed as much success a Texas Southern, was electric at the HPE. The P.A. announcer does a tremendous job of getting the crowd fired up from the opening tip. The game starts with the tradition of no one rooting for the home team sitting until the Tigers score a bucket.
The rafters surrounding the Coach Moreland Court are adorned with the banners of past success and the retired numbers of former great players. This adds the air of importance befitting of a program that has attained the success Texas Southern has.
As always, college athletics are greatly aided by the pageantry that goes into games. The Ocean of Soul TSU Band and the Tigress Sensations Dance Team add even more fun and excitement to the atmosphere.
The HPE is located right on the Texas Southern campus. The campus itself is located right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. As such, there is not much in the way of attractions in the area. A few small restaurants can be found in the area, but that is about it in terms of things to see or do.
On the plus side, Houston is the fourth largest city in the country. Within 15-30 minutes of leaving the campus in any direction, you can find a wealth of restaurants, hotels, and entertainment options. You will just need to do a bit of research beforehand.
TSU fans are flat out fantastic. They are vocal, passionate, and tuned into the game for its entirety. The most exciting thing in paying attention to the crowd is the vast range in ages of Tiger fans in attendance. The stands are packed with a great mix of young and old fans alike. You can literally see multiple generations of TSU fans at each home game.
While the HPE is designed to hold over 8,000 fans, do not expect to get that type of capacity crowd. However, with the fans that do attend – you won’t be able to help but get caught up in their frenzied passion for their team.
You can get to the Health and Physical Education Arena at Texas Southern fairly easily off of either Interstates 69 or 45, depending on where you are coming from in the city.
Off the highway though, you will need to make sure your GPS is working! You will have to navigate through a neighborhood to find the arena. The great public transportation system that Houston has in its downtown area – aside from public buses – does not extend to this part of the city.
Once there though, there is ample parking in the garage right behind the arena. Parking is often free for some home games.
Return on Investment 5
General admission tickets for Tigers home games start at $10 per person. This is a great bargain as there really aren’t any bad sight lines in the building. If you couple this with the relatively low cost for concessions (the chicken wings at $8 are the highest costing item on the menu) and the opportunity to pay $0 for parking, this makes for a great evening of NCAA basketball.
Playing in the SWAC and playing many non-conference games annually against a horde of some of the game’s biggest programs affords attendees to the HPE the chance to see some really great college basketball for a price that is easy on the old pocket book.
While there aren’t many frills at the Health and Physical Education Arena, there are a couple of standout “extras” to highlight. In addition to the dance team, the Tigers cheerleaders are also great. They add the right amount of emphasis at the right moments in the game to keep the crowd energized and focused on the action on the court.
Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention the school mascot, Tommy the Tiger. This guy is high-energy personified. When he isn’t heckling opposing players behind the basket on free throw attempts, he is seeking out small children and fans on the baselines to hug. When he isn’t doing that he is – no joke – hurdling trashcans at full speed sprints. “He” exemplifies what a great college mascot should be.
I didn’t have much in the way of preconceived thoughts prior to coming to the game at Health and Physical Education Arena. Upon visiting it, I came away impressed with the building (despite its obvious age) and the TSU fan base. This campus is full of legacy, history, and culture. The basketball team has a glorious winning tradition. If you are in Houston and looking for some big time hoops action, head over to the HPE.