Editor’s note: Paul Muth is an Army vet who tends to talk a lot, so when his friends tell him to stop, he either writes or talks to a microphone and calls it a podcast. He writes better with a beard and looks better with a beer. Or something like that. Follow him on twitter at @abumnamedpaul
By PAUL MUTH
Soccer. Football. Whatever you want to call it. The sport rightfully has a foothold in one of the country’s most diverse cities. And while I love my Astros, Rockets, and Texans, there’s a unique sense of pride I get from cheering for the Houston Dynamo.
That pride stems from the fact that, while they may be firmly planted as the fourth most profitable major sport in Houston, they are hosts to the absolute greatest fans Houston has to offer. There is absolutely no equal.
I think I’ve established how much of an Astros fan I am by now. Yet, when approached by non sports fans, my first recommendation is always a Houston Dynamo match. Not the Astros. Not the Rockets. Not the Texans. I say the same thing every time: “You don’t have to care about soccer or sports in general to have fun at that stadium.”
I have spent several seasons living just a few blocks west of BBVA Compass Stadium; some seasons as a fan enjoying the matches from the stands, and others bartending just across the street. As a fan I knew Dynamo fans were fun. As a bartender? Jesus. These matches are all day events and you better come correct on game day.
I’m not going to waste time dissecting why specifically you should be coming to more Dynamo games. I’ll keep it brief; the team is fun again, and the entire neighborhood turns into a damn party–before, during, and well after the game–every time they play. That should be convincing enough.
Where to get tickets:
You’ve got two options here. Option A: the Flashseats app, once again. This is actually a new option to Dynamo fans this season. Option B: actually call the Dynamo ticket office. They typically have some pretty cool four pack offers. My buddies and I take turns buying four packs and the last one I bought came with a $30 gift card to the team store.
They never knew about that last part. They did however, like my new hat.
Where to Park:
You might actually want to bite the bullet and pay for parking this time around. There are some pretty cheap spots on Hutchins and– as always –the further you’re willing to walk, the cheaper it gets.
Where to Pregame:
On game days, just about every bar in the neighborhood becomes saturated, so expect a rowdy party wherever you go. Lucky’s and Woodrow’s will be difficult to drink at or find anyone you may be trying to meet up with (keeping yelling into your phone how you’re the one by the bar in the orange. They’ll find you. Someday). So, while you still may end up barhopping there, I don’t suggest starting there.
Instead, head over to Neil’s Bahr just around the corner. A somewhat recent expansion and conversion of the lot next door to an outdoor drinking patio equipped with a cabana-style cash bar (referred to by the owner as “Tequille O’Niel’s Cantina”) gives one of Houston’s most unique bars plenty of real estate to handle the influx of Dynamo fans. The Bahr proper’s interior reminds me of basically every college house party I ever went to; everyone has a beer, some people are in the other room playing an overly competitive game of ping pong, others on the couch playing Super Smash Bros or Goldeneye on a tube TV (yes, that’s an option), and a purposely cheesy B-list movie off in the corner just waiting to be commented on to break any awkward silences. Oh, and if you’re hungry, you’re in luck because the best damn food in the neighborhood is grilled on the front patio by Pablo, the baddest hombre around.
Where to get beer:
BBVA Compass is a fairly intimate stadium, so even if you have to go from one end to the other, it’s not really that big of a deal. That said, BBVA has a fairly impressive selection of local (8th Wonder, St. Arnold) and not so local (Bitburger, Estrella Jalisco) brews, so you should be able to find something you like. Most of the craft beer can be found in the corners of the stadiums. Domestics will be found everywhere, as usual (you monster).
Where to eat:
I already told you, go to Pablo. The food inside the stadium is your standard stadium grub. Pablo will change your life.
Where it gets rowdy:
EVERYWHERE. The entire stadium is dialed in, and it’s live sports euphoria. If you really need to turn it up, sections 215-217 (known as “Zone Naranja”) are about as real as it gets in Houston. These sections are set aside for the team’s three separate official fan groups: El Batallon, Brickwall Firm, and the Texian Army. Last year the Dynamo relocated the groups to the north end of the stadium to allow more room for growth, since they had maxed out their original stomping grounds. Previously, you’d be hard pressed to find space among these diehards, but their new locale gives more casual fans an opportunity to sit among the utter chaos. Instead of slapping down season ticket money and hoping you made the right decision, now fans can try the section out for a few games to determine if they are, as former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch once so eloquently put it, “about that action.”
Look, I’m a fan. But those guys intimidate me.
Next: NRG Stadium