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  • Eric Moreno

Tudor Fieldhouse – Rice Owls


Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57

Tudor Fieldhouse 6100 S Main Houston, TX 77005


Rice Owls website

Tudor Fieldhouse website


Year Opened: 1950

Capacity: 5,208

 

Rice Owls – Tudor Fieldhouse

Established in Houston, Texas, in 1912, Rice University is one of the premier academic institutions in the state. Their athletics programs, the Owls, including their basketball team, began playing shortly after the school’s founding. The team began playing in their current home in 1950.

Over the years the Owls have seen some success on the court, winning nine conference championships and making the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on four separate occasions (1940, 1942, 1954, and 1970). They have also made appearances in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 1943, 1991, 1993, 2004, and 2005, the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) in 2012 and the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament in 2017.

Set within eyesight of Rice Stadium, Tudor Fieldhouse has seen two significant renovations since its opening, the first in 2008 (Rice alum Bobby Tudor headed up the 2008 renovation and the arena currently bears his name) and the second in 2014. These upgrades helped to modernize the venerable arena and have proven popular with the Rice faithful. Read on to learn what makes Tudor Fieldhouse the Owls home to roost.

Food & Beverage 2

One place where Tudor Fieldhouse truly could stand with some improvements is in the area of food and beverages. This is not to say that what they serve is bad by any means, but currently there is only one concessions stand for Owls games, which is located behind the section of the arena where the player benches are.

For large crowds, this could pose a problem with bottlenecking at inopportune times. If you are in need of getting your grub or drinks on during an Owls game, you will need to plan carefully so as not to miss any action.

In terms of what is offered, Tudor Fieldhouse serves up pretty much what you’d expect to find at a small-sized concessions stand, including hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, bottled sodas, water, sports drinks, pickles, and candy.

What does set it apart from having a lower score here is that the stand does offer alcoholic drinks for sale, specifically canned beer. In addition though, within reason you can bring in outside items, so take that into consideration as well.

Atmosphere 3

Once you get inside the relatively new Tudor Fieldhouse, you can see that the dollars were well spent. Everything looks great, the sightlines are well done, the seats are comfortable, and the acoustics are top-notch.

The Owls have done a great job honoring their historic past – on the arena’s walls hang banners depicting the conference championships of its men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as its volleyball teams, all of whom play at Tudor Fieldhouse.

The basketball team also celebrates its history of great players that have donned the purple and white, as they have seven retired player numbers hanging from the walls of Tudor Fieldhouse, including former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Ricky Pierce. The arena also boasts a team store near the main entrance for fans to purchase all their Owls merchandise.

Neighborhood 3

Tudor Fieldhouse is located right in the middle of Rice’s picturesque campus; with its red brick facades and scenic walkways, it often feels as if you’re stepping back in time when you set foot on the campus of Rice. As mentioned, Tudor Fieldhouse is within walking distance of Rice’s football stadium as well as Reckling Park, the Owls baseball stadium.

As Houston is the fourth-largest city in the country, it has everything you could ever want in terms of dining, entertainment, and lodging. Even in the area around Rice University you can find plenty to do – your best place to start is Rice Village.

Since 1938 Rice Village has been the go-to place for students and neighborhood residents who want shopping and dining. There are over a dozen restaurants to choose from for diners, but one perennial favorite to be on the lookout for is Mendocino Farms, which offers up a variety of specialty sandwiches and salads like their chimichurri steak & bacon, prosciutto & chicken, and pink lady beets and goat cheese salad. Another to be on the lookout for is D’Amico’s Italian Market & Cafe; specializing in classic Italian pasta dishes, this is the perfect place to grab a bite before or after Owls games.

For attractions, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the best such facilities in the region. Home to large collections of artifacts and the Burke Baker Planetarium, it regularly features rotating traveling exhibitions. Also close by is the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, which houses a large collection of classical and modern art.

For lodging there are numerous hotels in the area, although none are within walking distance of Tudor Fieldhouse. However, you will have a wide selection of choices that are within a short drive – these include Houston Marriott Medical Center/Museum District and Hilton Houston Plaza/Medical Center, which are both relatively affordable. However, Houston being Houston, you’ll have a multitude of other selections to choose from as well.

Fans 2

I think it would be fair to say that academics take a priority at Rice. For example, in addition to the retired jerseys hanging from the walls of Tudor Fieldhouse, the school also hangs the names of its numerous Rhodes Scholars.

With that in mind, the Owls attendance tends to be on the lower end of the spectrum in the conference. Tossing out the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to the pandemic, Rice only averages around 2,300 fans per game, which is in the bottom five for Conference USA and is not quite half capacity for the arena. While it will never be confused with Cameron Indoor Stadium or Rupp Arena, the fans that do show up are passionate about their team – they’re loud and bring the energy that is crucial to a basketball game.

Access 3

Tudor Fieldhouse is smack-dab in the center of the Rice University campus, which sits in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood, far from the hustle and bustle of Space City life. However, the campus is still right between two busy Houston highways (Loop 610 and State Highway 288), which makes getting to Owls games relatively easy.

The arena is also less than a 30-minute drive (taking this with a grain of salt as Houston traffic is fickle) from both George W. Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport. If you choose not to drive to games, the Houston METRO public transportation system does run to and from the Rice campus. However, if you choose to drive, parking is free and ample on campus.

Again, as with any sporting event in H-Town, be wary of the traffic situation if you choose to drive; you will hit spots of it guaranteed.

Return on Investment 3

Single game tickets for Rice Owls men’s basketball games start at $15 and go as high as $35. This is a really great bargain as the team does tend to bring some quality non-conference opponents into Tudor Fieldhouse.

It’s also not a bad way to spend an affordable Saturday afternoon if you’re looking to get your basketball fix in. Couple that with the free parking and affordable concessions costs, and you’ve got yourself a great deal for some pretty good college hoops, especially if you’re bringing the family.

Extras 2

When it comes to basketball, Rice doesn’t offer up the pageantry that many other college programs do – there is no mascot, no dance team, and no cheerleaders at its basketball games. Again, this is in large part due to the school’s standing as a leading a preeminent academic institution.

However, what they do have – and what saves the score from being lower here – is the Rice Marching Owl Band, aka the MOB. Known for their irreverent song selection (what other band would play the theme song from The Muppet Show during a break in the action?) and attire, the Rice MOB is long known for its antics, as well as for riling up the crowd and the opposing players.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, Tudor Fieldhouse will never be confused with any of the grand palaces of college basketball; but that’s okay, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking to introduce a young one to the sport of college basketball, or if you’re just looking to catch a game on your own, you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to spend your time or your money. I wouldn’t call it a bucket list spot, but I think you’ll have a good time if you stop in at Tudor Fieldhouse.

Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477. Visit Eric Moreno’s writer’s portfolio site at ericmoreno.contently.com.

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