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  • Nathaniel Mata

UTRGV Fieldhouse – UT-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros


Photo Courtesy of utrgvrider.com


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57

UTRGV Fieldhouse 1201 West University Dr Edinburg, TX 78541

UT-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros website UTRGV Fieldhouse website

Year Opened: 1969 Capacity: 2,500

 

Deep South Texas Division I Home

The Fieldhouse, located in the city of Edinburg (in the Deep South Texas), has a unique charm. It may not be impressive from the outside but it is inside. Built in 1969 the Fieldhouse has aged well. Major renovations to the bleachers on both sides, center court, and a graphics layout has given the venue a face lift that makes it a great place to visit.

With a name change from UTPA to UTRGV in fall 2015 came new court insignias and branding around the Field House and campus. The new looks are only the start of the face lift that the Fieldhouse may get in the near future.

Food & Beverage 2

Honestly food and drink at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Fieldhouse is nothing to write home about. There is not a kitchen or even a concession stand inside. In the courtyard outside of the west entrance two mobile trailers sell concessions. ‘Concession’ is the right word because you will not find too many extravagant stadium foods like burgers. Hot dogs are available most of the time if the demand isn’t too much.

A strong suggestion from the concession stand options is hot cheetos with cheese. This is a regional snack that is the spicy version of hot cheetos with a hearty spoonful of nacho cheese. (Served with a fork because it is as messy as it sounds.)

Other than that it’s an average variety of chips, drinks and candy bars. If you want good eats I would suggest eating on University Drive before or after the game.

Atmosphere 3

Even though Texas-Rio Grande Valley is known as a commuter campus everything about a UTRGV game is a college experience. The UTRGV pep band is always fun and keeping the attitude light no matter the score. The band is always loud but are sometimes rivalled by that of fraternities or the student section.

The video scoreboard is impressive for the size of the arena. Spanning nearly the entire end line on the south side, the video board offers instant replay and also serves as a scoreboard. Just above the video board you’ll find the 1962-63 NAIA National Championship banner. On the left side hangs a banner recognizing the 1980-81 NIT bid and to the right hangs the retired jersey of Luke Jackson (NBA and Olympic champion).

Near the walkway on the southwest corner and Fieldhouse wall is a plaque which pays homage to the coach of the ’63 championship team as well as the father of UTPA, now UTRGV basketball, Sam Williams. Above the east side bleachers is a “Welcome to the Valley” banner.

Neighborhood 2

Edinburg, Texas is not exactly a hot spot for tourism. It is a suburb of a town, McAllen, that isn’t really heavy on attractions either. There is a very unique culture along the US-Mexico border, but sadly there is not much more to do than eat out.

Within a mile or so radius of the Fieldhouse there is a plethora of eating options catered for the college students (or fans). There are tons of fast foods options if you just want to fulfill a meal but there’s some nicer sit down options as well.

My top suggestion is to check out the University Drafthouse. The Drafthouse is newly opened and is tailor-made for game days. They will even stream UTRGV away games if there is streaming capabilities wherever the Vaqueros are traveling. The restaurant keeps more than 30 beers on tap, many in bottles and serves some top notch hamburgers (something you’ll have leave campus to do).

There’s also a taqueria right across the street if you want to get into the traditional food of the Rio Grande Valley. La Mexicana won’t take too much out of your wallet and the meal should be memorable.

The history of the area can be further explored at the Museum of South Texas History. Another neat stop is the Tejano Walk of Fame near the Edinburg city hall which serves as a tribute to Tejano music legends.

Edinburg in itself isn’t overflowing with attractions, so I recommend lodging in nearby McAllen at the Hilton Garden Inn. McAllen is a much larger city with tons more to do and is only a skip south. About an hour and a half east of Edinburg is the summer time travel stop of South Padre Island. Depending on the timing and weather for your trip, you may want to try to include a stop here as a side excursion.

Fans 3

Since UTRGV doesn’t boast a football team (yet), basketball is the pride and joy of the school.

UTRGV fans often go the way the team goes. If the team isn’t winning the crowds will thin out. Even during rough seasons however, you can find some passionate fans wearing green and orange to support the team.

There is a very loyal group of senior citizens that often purchase season tickets that you can always find frequenting the bleachers at the Fieldhouse no matter what the state of the Vaqueros may be.

Sadly tough times have fallen upon the Vaqueros and often attendance can dip below 500 fans a night. A factor contributing to this is the cross-country opponents they face during conference play. It might be hard for a crowd to get behind a rivalry with a team from say Bakersfield, California. If you attend a game against a more geographical rival, like UT-San Antonio then you are likely to find a more healthy crowd.

Fans are always into the game, cheering hard when good things happen and everything you would hope for in a college crowd. If you’re lucky you can even catch the Fieldhouse on an extra festive day with pre-game tailgates or pep rallies.

Access 3

UTRGV’s Fieldhouse in Edinburg is approximately a 20 minute drive from the Rio Grande Valley’s nearest airport in McAllen. If you fly into the other international airport in Harlingen, you can expect a 45 minute to an hour drive.

Finding the Fieldhouse has been said to be a challenge to non-regulars. This mostly stems from the fact that almost all of the buildings on the campus have the exact same exterior and the Fieldhouse is no different. Look for parking lot F.

Wheelchair access is available upon request and you’ll be seated somewhere on the floor.

The restrooms are outside of the doors that non-season ticket holders enter through and lines are nonexistent.

Return on Investment 3

An adult ticket will set you back $8, or $10 for reserved which is reasonable considering you are catching NCAA Division I action. Parking is always free.

A better on-court product might have warranted a bump in ROI but until UTRGV starts to host and compete with high-caliber opponents or even makes a run at WAC success it still can seem like a tough sell.

The price leaves room for a decent meal before or after your evening at the Fieldhouse. The Rio Grande Valley has one of the lowest costs of livings in the country so a visit to South Texas won’t break the bank.

Extras 2

The pep band likes to play sing along tunes and also leads the heckling department. It’s also fun to do the fake shot clock countdown which has been known to force a few point guards to rush the play.

In 2012 a Coca-Cola sponsored video board was installed that is very helpful for those keeping stats to see exactly what every player on the court is doing in terms or points, assists, rebounds and fouls.

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