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The Houston stadium tour cheat sheet Part 4: NRG Stadium

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

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BY PAUL MUTH

This is part four of his Houston stadium series. You can find part one — Minute Maid Park — here, part two — Toyota Center — here and part three — BBVA Compass here.

In 2002 Houston re-emerged in the NFL with a shiny new stadium and the most generic team name in the league. Fifteen full seasons later and the Texans laugh at our face as Houstonians blindly pack NRG Stadium–every weekend of every season–despite an all-time franchise win percentage of 44%. In fifteen seasons these guys have produced TWO double-digit win seasons. But football, am I right?

I will preface this article by admitting that I don’t really go to a ton of Texans games. I do root for them, and I do watch the games, I just can’t justify going. As far as football is concerned, it is my personal preference that watching the game on the patio of a comfortable bar with a few friends in the fall is a much better experience than the all day experience of a Texans game at NRG.

No one simply shows up for the game. You’ve got to fight traffic to get there, arrive early enough to tailgate, go to the game, fight an hour of traffic just to get out of the parking lot, and then add on the actual travel time home because no one who can afford to do this regularly lives near the stadium. But I digress. Football, am I right?!

Alright, so you’ve decided you want to go see [insert 2017 starting quarterback name here] toss some touchdowns for your favorite team in the world. Maybe you’re going in hopes that we’ll finally get to see Bill O’Brien snap and put a rookie through a table, Dudley Boyz Style. Or maybe you just want to tailgate. All are valid reasons to head down to Kirby and 610. Here’s the best advice I can give without being too jaded. Football!

Where to get tickets:

There aren’t any tricks, really. It’s football in Texas, so it’s a seller’s market. And if you thought you were already getting fleeced, you’ll be happy to know that they’re increasing ticket prices next season. Now the average ticket will only cost you $103 per person!

Where to park:

The parking lot might actually be the most entertaining aspect of catching a Texans game at NRG Stadium. On gameday, I typically see more social media posts of people partying their faces off at tailgates in the parking lot than of anyone actually in the stadium. Believe it or not, Houston is actually one of the best tailgating venues in the NFL. I mean, they’ve basically got teams out there. There are groups of dudes (and ladies) that give themselves cool Texans-related team names, shell out upwards of $10,000 dollars a year for parking spaces alone (not including the cost of their season tickets), bring barbeque pits worth more than my car, sit in a parking lot, cook, drink and talk about the Texans before they go see the Texans. But if you ignore that cynical perspective or absurd logic of the entire tradition, they’re actually a ton of fun. You’ll need a ticket to the game, a parking pass, and a tailgating pass to do any of this though because why would you assume that a blue collar tradition would be free. Dummy. Oh, and drink responsibly. Or at least pace yourself. Don’t be the guy who gets so drunk at the tailgate that he doesn’t even remember getting in the game, wakes up at 7 p.m. in their car following a noon kickoff with a friend you believe is missing, but is actually fine because they were locked up for public intoxication.

That entirely hypothetical situation would be a real rookie move, guys.

Where to pregame:

Tailgate, dummy.

Where to get beer:

NRG is home to several bars throughout the stadium and has a fairly decent offering of local breweries like 8th Wonder, Karbach, and Saint Arnold. They’ll all run you roughly $10 so once again, just go drink at the tailgate and ride that buzz throughout the game. The Texans will probably give you plenty of reasons to drink though next season.

Where to get food:

Dude, seriously. Tailgate.

Where it gets rowdy:

THE TAILGA–I’ll stop. The entire stadium is fairly rowdy, but the north endzone–referred to as “The Bull Pen” is where it gets crazy. To give you an idea of what you’re in for (assuming you can score tickets here), here’s an excerpt from the Texans official Bull Pen site:

“…fans within the Bull Pen are encouraged to stand throughout the game, sing, cheer and otherwise support the team in an enthusiastic manner, and therefore this section may not be a good fit for children or families.”

I love it.

Next up: The Astrodo–I mean, we’re done.

 

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