- Eric Moreno
HEB Park - Rio Grande Valley FC Toros
Photo courtesy of Rio Grande Valley FC Toros
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
HEB Park 1616 S. Raul Longoria Road Edinburg, TX 78542
Rio Grande Valley FC Toros website
Year Opened: 2017
The Toros are Thriving in the Rio Grande Valley
The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is an area of the state unlike any other. The blending of American and Mexican culture is everywhere. With the palm tree-lined streets and nearly year-round warm weather, it is possible to close your eyes and imagine you are in another country entirely.
In recent years, the Edinburg-McAllen metro area has seen a renaissance of industry and growth moving into the area. Edinburg especially has been the beneficiary of this growth, as it has found itself the recipient of a United Soccer League franchise. The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros were founded in 2015 and began playing in 2016.
To go along with their status as a professional sports town, the team ownership and the city collaborated on a beautiful, state of the art facility for their club: HEB Park, which opened at the beginning of 2017. Sleek and modern, the stadium has quickly become a fan favorite.
Food & Beverage 4
Visitors to HEB Park will have all of their food and drink needs met. There are four main concessions areas – two in each of the stadium’s two concourses. The areas serve all the traditional game fare, such as hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, pretzels, candy, soda, and draft beer.
There are two stands that offer a pared down menu of the hamburger chain, Fuddruckers. Two of the locations also offer French toast on a stick. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen also has a pop-up tent stand, that offers a pared down menu in the open area walkway in the north end of the stadium. You can also buy fruit cups at scattered pop ups, and at a few of the concessions kiosks.
Another highlight, especially for adults, is the smoothie stand located in the east concourse. This vendor serves various sizes of traditional, fruity smoothies that are appropriate for all ages. However, they also serve “adult smoothies”, which combine the tasty drinks with alcoholic “enhancements”.
Another highlight is the beautiful Scoreboard Bar in the north concourse area. Modeled after a similar structure at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, CA, this full-service bar serves as the base of the main scoreboard at HEB Park. It is a full-service bar and a hub of activity throughout the game (which will be discussed further later in this review).
Being so close to the Mexican border, where the sport of futbol is a national obsession, makes HEB Park in Edinburg the perfect spot for the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. The parking lot of HEB Park is a sea of activity before the start of games, as fans do a healthy dose of tailgating for several hours prior to game time.
The stands are awash in Toros orange, and it is quite impressive how quickly the area has embraced the new team. Fans wear t-shirts, jerseys/kits, and scarves – albeit in a lighter than usual fabric, as temperatures on the pitch can get up into the 100-plus degrees during the summer.
There is also an official fan club, The Stampede, which has taken up residence in the west concourse bleachers. With their chanting, cheering and drum banging (they bring their own drums to the game), they supply a constant stream of energy that infects the home crowd throughout the stadium. The acoustics, despite being open-ended on each side, are perfect for soccer.
Also adding to the atmosphere is the aforementioned Scoreboard Bar, which becomes a hub for fans who need to stretch their legs, grab a quick bite and/or meet up with some fellow soccer enthusiasts. There is a live music stage set up adjacent to the bar, which also enhances the game watching experience.
Once the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros start to develop a culture of winning, and HEB Park begins to attract even more high-profile “friendlies”, you can expect an even more electric atmosphere in the stadium.
It does take an effort to get to the Rio Grande Valley from any of the large cities in Texas. You can fly many large commercial airlines to nearby McAllen. Driving though, it is almost three and a half hours from San Antonio and almost five from Austin.
However, once you’re down there, Edinburg, McAllen, Mission (the birthplace of Tom Landry), Harlingen, Weslaco, and even Brownsville are all within “shouting” distance. If you bring your passport, you can easily get to Reynosa and Rio Bravo across the U.S. border.
This large metro area offers an abundance of activities (it is the birding capital of the United States if you are a nature lover), as well as many hotel and restaurant options. If you are looking for a bite to eat, you have to try out some authentic Tex-Mex/Mexican cuisine – I can personally vouch for Costa Messa Restaurant as being one of the best in the area.
I really can’t say enough about how enthusiastic and knowledgeable Toros fans are. It probably helps that the area has a long affinity for the sport (the Edinburg-McAllen-Mission metro area has close to 500 weekend and amateur soccer clubs), and that affinity shows up during Toros games at HEB Park.
Fans here cheer on breakaways, on defensive stops, on shots on goals, and, of course, on actual home team goals. You’ll find lots of orange, you’ll find lots of Toros team gear, and you’ll find the stands quite packed (they are averaging just over 6,000 for weekend games this season) for every game.
As mentioned, it does take a little bit of work to get to Edinburg and HEB Park. But, once you’re there, the stadium is located off one of the main highways (Interstate 69) and two of the city’s main thoroughfares (Freddy Gonzales Drive and Raul Longoria Road, respectively).
Since the stadium just opened, there is not much in the way of signage leading the way there; that is anticipated to change in the not too distant future though. Also, there is just the main entrance to the parking lot, and that has the potential to bottleneck, especially close to game time, so plan accordingly. However, on the bright side, parking is ample and free.
Return on Investment 3
You can get quite a bargain at HEB Park in terms of ticket prices if you go at certain times. Normally, ticket prices for Toros games range from the low of $9 per ticket to the high of $40. On certain nights, however, general admission tickets can be had for $5 as part of the stadium’s “Four Corners” option – make sure to check the calendar for when these are available.
Concessions costs are right in step with other minor league facilities; you can expect to pay around $5-$10 per person for your trip to the snack bar depending on what you get. Again, as parking is free, you can expect a real bargain at HEB Park for Rio Grande Valley FC Toros games.
HEB Park has all the bells and whistles that most “new” stadiums have. One interesting feature is the luxury suites/boxes; instead of being high up in the stands, they are slightly raised at pitch level. Fans in the boxes are right on top of the on-field action.
Additional “extras” include the club’s mascot, a currently unnamed anthropomorphic bull, and the team’s cheerleaders, the Toros girls. You can expect to see both wandering the concourses and stands throughout the games, and they are easily accessible for photo opportunities.
There is also a very well-stocked team store near the main stadium entrance on the east concourse.
I was not sure what to expect in my trip to this part of Texas to see minor league soccer. I have to say I came away extremely impressed with both. Flat out, HEB Park is beautiful, and I feel it is safe to say that it has little to no rival in the world of minor league soccer, and it probably could rival many major league facilities. It is truly the crown jewel of the United Soccer League.
If you are in the Rio Grande Valley, HEB Park is a must visit. I believe you will be as captivated by the place as I was.
Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477. Visit Eric Moreno’s writer’s portfolio site at ericmoreno.contently.com.