Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Panther Stadium 1600 Stadium Dr
Prairie View, TX 77445
Year Opened: 2016
Prairie View A&M Panthers – Panther Stadium
The Panthers of Prairie View A&M University have a long and storied tradition on the gridiron that dates back to 1907. An HBCU, Prairie View A&M resides in the eponymous city of Prairie View in central East Texas. Over the years, the football program has had periods of tremendous success and long periods of disappointment – including an 80-game losing streak that ran from 1991-1998.
During the periods of success on ‘The Hill’, as the campus is called, the Panthers have won 11 conference championships – all while members of the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) – and five Black College National Championships. Longtime head coach and college football hall of famer Billy Nicks guided the team to the national championships and helped mold the career of future pro football hall of famer Ken Houston.
Since 2016 Prairie View A&M has called the state-of-the-art, on-campus Panther Stadium its home. Steeped in history and tradition, Prairie View A&M is an often-overlooked gem on the college football landscape. Read on to learn what makes Panther Stadium special.
Food & Beverage 4
The concessions at Panther Stadium really do stand out due to their variety. Food trucks set up shop on the outside of the stadium on the home team’s side, allowing fans to take part in the gastronomic revelry before Panthers games.
Inside the stadium there are multiple stands on both the home and visitor sides, and these stands offer some truly unique game day fare. In addition to your standard hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn, Panther Stadium offers up such fare as loaded baked potatoes, turkey legs, chicken wings, and boudin. Concessions costs for these higher end items range from $8-$15.
There are also scattered standalone food kiosks throughout the main concourse level. These range from free-standing beer and alcohol carts to a funnel cake stand. All in all the variety is pretty great, and you won’t bust your wallet enjoying these offerings.
I was able to attend a game at Panther Stadium on the weekend of Prairie View A&M’s homecoming festivities. This may skew this ranking a bit due to the circumstances, but with that in mind I have to say the atmosphere was electric. The stadium was packed to the metaphorical gills, there were tailgaters filling up available parking lot, and the energy was palpable the entire time I was there.
The stadium is located in Prairie View’s athletics complex with the backdrop of its picturesque campus never far from view. The stadium itself is laid out perfectly for fans to get great views from wherever they sit, and it feels fully integrated into the student life of the campus.
Fans Enjoying the Game at Panther Stadium, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
When visiting an HBCU for a football game, this is one of the few instances where you won’t see fans making a mad dash for the restrooms or concession stands during halftime – every bit of the stadium that could have fans, had them as they stayed to watch Prairie View A&M’s band, the Marching Storm (more on them in the Extras section) do what they do best.
If there is one area where things are lacking in a visit to Prairie View, it is here. The city itself is only about a 45-minute drive from Houston. However, it is tucked away in a corner of the state that forces drivers to take the backroads to get there.
Once you get there, your normal options in terms of attractions, dining, and lodging are extremely limited. For attractions the stadium is located near the William Nicks Center, home of the school’s basketball and volleyball teams, as well as Tankersley Field, home to the Panthers baseball squad. Beyond that, you will need to venture outside of Prairie View for things to do.
The same can be said for dining. The only non-chain, fast food restaurant in the area is Moe B’s Mystery Kitchen. Specializing in Cajun comfort food, this is a popular spot in the city. Outside of that, you’re going to need to venture to either nearby Hempstead or Waller for dining and lodging options. As a bonus though, if you head to Waller you could stop at Buc-ee’s and see what it’s all about.
I have to hand it to Prairie View A&M fans when it comes to this particular section; good or bad they show out for their team. While the official capacity of Panther Stadium is 15,000, games swell to well over that with standing-room only options available in both end zones. Big games against rivals have seen crowds of over 18,000 in attendance.
As mentioned the tailgate scene is quite impressive, with some form of it going on in every available public lot. It’s pretty impressive to see and if at all possible, is something you should take part in. This is a passionate fan base and that makes attending games at Panther Stadium fun to see and be a part of.
This rating dovetails into what was mentioned in the Neighborhood section – the city of Prairie View and the campus of Prairie View A&M are, quite frankly, hard to get to. You really have to have a desire to go there in order to get there.
The campus is about a 45-minute drive down State Highway 290 from the Houston metro area. That’s the good news, as both George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport are two of the busiest airports in the country, so you should have no problem getting to Houston from anywhere in the country.
The bad news is that, once you get to H-Town you’re going to have to drive to Panther Stadium; there really is just no getting around it, as Prairie View doesn’t offer any public transportation. Once you get to campus, however, the other bit of good news is that parking for Panthers games is free. You may have to park somewhere in another part of the campus, but you will enjoy the walk.
Return on Investment 3
Single-game tickets for Prairie View A&M games at Panther Stadium start at $19 for most games (this can go up for rivalry games). This is on the lower-end of the spectrum for Division I, FCS-level competition.
The concession costs, which are on the affordable end of the cost spectrum, coupled with the free parking makes for a relatively inexpensive day in Prairie View. The school doesn’t often bring big time FBS-level teams to The Hill, but they do play a pretty solid FCS non-conference schedule. Plus, and I will touch on this more, I think everyone who’s a sports fan should experience an HBCU game at some point – a game at Panther Stadium is a great place to start, and it won’t bust your wallet to have the experience.
This score almost reaches the full five out of five for one reason: The Marching Storm. Prairie View A&M’s band is a true spectacle to behold. They put on a show at halftime and in many fans’ minds, they are worth the price of admission alone.
The band is accompanied onto the field by the Twirling Thunder twirl team and the Black Foxes dance squad; watching this group perform is something all fans should make a point of doing when they catch a game at Panther Stadium.
I personally think anyone who is a sports fan should take in a game at an HBCU. It is truly an experience you won’t forget. There is a time investment that you have to undertake in order to get to Prairie View, but once you get there, I think you’ll enjoy what The Hill has to offer. Make a trip when you can, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.