They say football in Texas is its own religion. In the last few years, however, another sport has risen up to compete with the "big 3" sports leagues across our great city. I talk, of course, of soccer and our Houston Dynamo. A recent study just named Houston an official "Soccer City", 2nd only to Los Angeles when it comes to interest in the sport. The 2015 season was the second in a row with no playoff appearance for the Dynamo, yet the team still had a higher average home attendance than the Houston Rockets.
With a growing fan base and increased interest in the sport, we are seeing more and more sports fans casually glancing towards BBVA Compass stadium with curiosity. A recent, informal, poll I ran recently noted 38% of responders have never been to a Dynamo or Dash game, but have wanted to. I'll admit, I was one of those fans for several years. Open stadium in Houston, no clue about the team or MLS in general, and I assumed the stadium was packed with soccer nuts. Attend one game and you'll find a) an open stadium doesn't matter that much at 8 pm, b) it's soccer, the rules are pretty easy to pick up, c) I was so so so wrong about my soccer fan stereotype. Very wrong. Not even close to being accurate.
This article is the first in a series to help new Dynamo fans and the many Houston sports fans that have been interested in going to a game but have no clue where to even begin. To the readers that have been to every home game, that bleed Orange and Black, that can name every player to have ever made the roster...don't just skip this article series. There are so many tips and ideas that there was no way I could include them all in these articles. For each article I'll have a list of topics I'll cover. Feel free to include any help in the comments that will make new fans feel more welcome on game day. Houston Dash fans I'm not excluding you either. I'll freely admit I haven't made it to a Dash game yet. It's on my "to do" list though, I promise. If you have any Dash specific recommendations then definitely chime in below. The "Soccer City" name is not limited to just Dynamo interest, the ladies in Orange definitely deserve credit for helping to grow the sport in our great city.
So let's begin shall we? The best place to start?
Tickets and parking.
The one thing I absolutely LOVE about the Dynamo is their ticket prices. Look around and you can get them even cheaper or with additional perks when you get package deals. Since the Dash are a newer team and not as popular as the men's team (yet), their tickets are only available in the lower bowl of the stadium for between $15 and 30, depending on the section you want to be in. For the sake of this article, let's say you just want to go to a single Dynamo game to see what the fuss is about.
First step, pick a game you want to go to. I highly recommend picking a night game that's not in the heat of summer. 7:30 Saturday evening starts are perfect. When it's your first game the opponent really doesn't matter. When buying a single game ticket I recommend watching for special deals that the Dynamo run pretty often throughout the year. Such as this one below to tie it in with March Madness. If you don't see a deal you like, then just go to the Dynamo website and buy a ticket straight from there. I've tried looking at second-hand sites such as StubHub but to be honest, the Dynamo page is typically the cheapest. Last season the Dynamo partnered with ReplyBuy which allows you to buy tickets via text message. However, it isn't available every game and it only applies to the section(s) you are messaged about. The Dash also have ticket specials through out the season available on their website and of course single game tickets available on their website.
BBVA Compass stadium doesn't have a bad seat in the house, however, you'll want to be aware of two things: the sun and the supporter's section. Wear a hat and/or sunglasses to avoid the sun, going to a game that late you won't have to worry about it for too long anyways. Seats from 233 to 240 then 201 to 209 or so typically have the most shade since the sun is setting behind you. The supporter's section is between 215 and 217 (see the seating map below). This is the loudest, craziest group of fans in the stadium. They can be a ton of fun and lead chants throughout the game. HOWEVER, they can be a bit overwhelming to a first timer and if you have a kid/spouse that doesn't like a lot of noise then it might not be the right experience for you. Some will say the only way to truly experience a Dynamo game is to sit as close to the Supporter's Section as possible, I say go have fun wherever you feel the most comfortable.
Every fan is different when it comes to the angle you want to watch the game at. Some prefer along the sidelines and others (like myself) prefer the end lines behind a goal. I recommend sitting in the 200 level seats at the angle you prefer so save a little cash compared to the lower seats. I typically sit in section 237 which is behind one goal and opposite of the Supporter's Section. These are also cheaper seats which makes it easier for my son and I to attend more games. I've included a price chart below for easy reference...but keep in mind those prices can change at any time so don't hold me to it if something changes. Again, this is for Dynamo prices. Dash tickets start at $15 for general seating and go up to $30, all in the 100 level.
Here is the view from section 237.
So you've picked out the game, found a seat in the perfect section at the perfect angle to see the action, now what? Well you've got to get there. We'll talk about things to do around the stadium in another article but for now, let's talk about parking. As long as you park about an hour before kick-off, you'll have plenty of time to get to your seats.
You have 3 types of parking options. 1) Park in Lots B or C next to the stadium. $25 cash on game day. 2) Find a lot a bit farther away near Minute Maid Park or other lot a few blocks away. $5 to 20+, depending on the lot. 3) Park anywhere along the light rail for cheap (or even free) and take a ride to the stadium. No matter which option you pick, bring cash for parking.
Parking in B or C can allow for easy tailgating and a short walk to the stadium. The downside though is thicker traffic to get in and out plus your parking might cost more than your seat in the stadium. I refuse to park in these lots but hey, to each his own. The other surface lots can be a great alternative but there is one VERY important thing to keep in mind. If the Astros are playing around the same time as the Dynamo then parking costs go way up. I've had a $5 lot jump to $30 because of the Astros or some other event going on simultaneously. Nothing critical here, just be aware of it and bring a little extra cash just in case.
The light rail just recently expanded to include a stop at the front door of BBVA. Nice huh? Yes, the cars can be pretty full when it's time to head out, but you can find cheaper parking and NOT deal with as much traffic to get out of the area. One recommendation I was given is to park near the Moody Towers or similar area near UH. Hop on the train and head on into the stadium. I've done something similar for the rodeo and football games and had no problems at all. Just remember you'll be getting to your car late at night so be safe and mindful of the surrounding area.
Next time I'll post about the tailgating scene, things to do outside and inside the stadium. The third post will cover chants, traditions and the various fan groups that make up the Supporter's Section with the final post diving into Dynamo social media, club history and other details to help an outsider feel more welcome.
Sound off in the comments below if you have any tips or suggestions for tickets or parking. If you have any information you'd like to pass along for my future articles or if you're a new fan and would like information on something specific, hit me up on twitter (@BigT_33) or comment below and I'll make sure to add it to my notes!