Houston, Texas. When people think of Houston they typically think of oil companies, horses, traffic and some of the best barbecue in the world. We love to eat, love to cook on open flames and we love our sports. Put these together and you get some great tailgating.
In the first part of this series I laid out some helpful tips on tickets and parking. You're finally at the stadium, now what? If it's your first visit to BBVA Compass Stadium then I recommend arriving at least an hour before kick-off and walking through lots B and C. Take in the wonderful aromas coming off the grills, chat with other fans, kick a soccer ball around, throw some corn-hole, really enjoy the experience. If you choose to tailgate yourself, here are few tips:
- Tailgating is technically only allowed in lots B and C. Cash lots in other areas generally don't let you do a full out tailgate. (See below for alternatives though)
- Patrons must keep all tables, chairs, coolers, barbecues, etc. within the designated parking stall. Tents or canopies exceeding the 8' x 8' footprint and vehicles measuring more than 18' in length and/or 8' in width are not permitted to park in a lined parking space.
- Glass containers are NOT allowed. Seriously though, who wants to run over a glass bottle after a game and spend 30 minutes changing a flat tire?
- Please remember there are kids walking to the stadium, music where every other word is a curse word has no place in the tailgating scene. Having the same music right on a main sidewalk just makes you look childish and foolish. If you want to act like a Jr. High kid that thinks ever 4 letter word is funny, I've heard there is a southern Oklahoma team that might be more your speed.
- I love my city, I'm sure you do as well. Pick up your trash when you tailgate or else Diesel will have to come and fill your ride with packing peanuts.
Now if you're like me and don't want to spend $25 on parking but still want to tailgate in some fashion, here's my typical game-day experience: my son (age 7) and I arrive at one of the cheaper lots about an hour before kickoff. We meet up with my sister and her family (includes 2 kids under 7) and enjoy a quick dinner in the back of our minivans. Sandwiches, snacks, etc. with card games and other entertainment for the kids is a great way to start off the event. We typically have plenty of time to eat, walk to the stadium slowly, check out the booths that we care to see, then can be in our seats with 5-10 minutes to spare before kickoff.
I can't stress enough the importance of being in your seats for the opening ceremony. To truly experience a soccer game at the professional level you need to be in your seats for the opening ceremony. Pregame hype video, the team walking out onto the field, the starting lineup announcement, plus the National Anthem (just a reminder, always remove your hat for the National Anthem out of respect and courtesy).
Pregame booths at the main entrance include the standard fair for kids to kick a ball into a goal, spin a wheel for a prize (presented by the sponsor of choice), various koozie and fan give always, and normally some booth for kids to get a balloon animal or face painting. One tip, avoid the balloon animal. You're going into a stadium not a house with carpet. The balloon will pop, the kid will be upset, and before that happens the balloon will hit at least one random stranger sitting near you. Trust me on this one, it's worth the tears when you say no and keep walking.
So what if you don't have kids with you? What about the 21 and up crowd Thomas? I'm glad you asked.
Popular hot spots are 8th Wonder Brew and Neil's Bahr. Having a young child with me for game means I don't spend any time pregame at local establishments. I was told by multiple people these two spots are great for pre-game festivities. If you have another favorite spot please add it in the comments below!
Another option is Orange Avenue on the south end of the building, on Bastrop between McKinney and Walker. There is a lot to see and do along Orange Avenue, including the Bud Light Beer Garden. Each gathering is different depending on the music and theme that week. Check out their website for more details. Beer, crawfish (for the April 10th game) and live music before the game even gets going, what's not to love?
As you walk up to the main entrance to the stadium you'll notice the line to get in can get a little long. I recommend checking out the booths on the sides of the entrance until they get a bit smaller. The people at BBVA Compass Stadium do a pretty good job getting people into the stadium. One thing to keep in mind though is their bag policy. Bags, including over-sized purses and backpacks, with the exception of diaper bags, no larger than 14 inches by 14 inches by 6 inches are allowed. Keep in mind that all bags are subject to search.
Once you're inside the stadium just remember it's a small circle. No matter which way you go you'll get to your seat eventually. Go with the flow of the crowd and be sure to visit the various booths and stores as you go along. Keep an eye on the clock though, and get in those seats on time! Something important to remember! This is like any other sporting event. Pregame and half time are when the bathroom and food lines are the longest! It's VERY easy to hop down from your seats, grab a quick popcorn and water (no comment on the prices...ouch) and get back to your seats without missing much action. If we score while you're gone then I'll buy your next round...as long as you leave when we're desperate for another goal.
Next time I'll cover the rich traditions around the Dynamo, some team history and what's with all of those supporter sections? If there's something that needs to be added or tips/advice for other fans that you think will help, add them in the comments below!