Weighing the stadium options
By Ciara Rouege
Last November, UH students enjoyed their final view of the Houston skyline from the bleachers of Robertson Stadium. In a matter of weeks, bulldozers and drills charged in and demolished decades of history, tradition and legacy.
The Frontiersmen will continue to rush across the field waving UH flags and the crowd will keep counting Shasta’s touchdown pushups in unison, but it won’t be the same without that brilliant view of the Houston skyline in the background.
Football will return to campus upon completion of the new stadium, but until then, student turnout at football games is at risk while the facility is under heavy construction.
To combat unenthusiastic fans, the Athletics Department will charter students to and from our temporary home at Reliant Stadium in 50-passenger buses in which students will be able to reserve seats online prior to the games. The buses are a viable option, but not all students are interested in attending the entire game or might have immediate reasons for leaving early.
According to Athletics Communications Director David Bassity, student parking will be available at Reliant, but decisions regarding available spaces and possible fees are still being made.
The required commute will be a true test of the student fan base after Robertson’s highly convenient location. Presenting this new distance might make students less willing to come out when the odds are not in Houston’s favor.
Despite these problems, head coach Tony Levine and the players are eager to compete at Reliant. Traveling around the city for home games while managing the conference schedule will be difficult, but Levine said he is confident that the situation will have little impact on the team’s spirit and performance.
“I think it’s going to have a tremendous effect on the ticket manager,” Levine said at the first season press conference. “Going into the Reliant — one of the nicest NFL stadiums in the nations — our players are excited about it.”
Athletics announced that the game against Cincinnati, which is anticipated to be our toughest conference win, will be held under the gray and blue at Rice Stadium. In addition, the department recently secured BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the Houston Dynamo, for other home games.
Senior kicker Richie Leone started playing at Robertson Stadium his freshman year, but like many other players on the team, he finds Reliant Stadium inspiring and is ready to kick field goals in the home of the Texans.
“I can’t wait to play at Reliant. We played there last year and it was a lot of fun,” Leone said.
Clearly, the football team and coaching staff is willing to travel the distance, but there is reasonable doubt that the students will follow.
Reliant Stadium will be a memorable experience for the school, but competing in a new conference with a predominantly freshman and sophomore team, Houston will need all the visible support that the University has to offer.
By Euan Leith
The Cougars have called Robertson Stadium their home for the past 15 years. In that time they have risen to No.6 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, hosted ESPN College Gameday, and were led by the all-time leading passer in NCAA history, but a lack of a consistently good football program has been out of the Cougars’ grasp.
That will all change in Fall 2014 once the brand-new 40,000-seat stadium is unveiled where Robertson Stadium used to be located. It will bring in more donations, national attention and high school recruits.
We live in a world in which many people believe the newest thing is the best thing. So while Cougar fans wait to see what the new stadium will look like, they will need to make their way to Reliant Stadium for the 2013 season if they want to watch their football team live. I think that it will be a great change of scenery for the fans and for the football team.
It’s interesting to consider choosing Reliant Stadium as opposed to BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the Houston Dynamo, or Rice Stadium, home of the Rice Owls.
First of all, Reliant Stadium is cheaper. The home of the Texans is charging a $75,000 license fee per game, while the Owls and Dynamo charge $115,000 and $130,000 respectively. Also, UH will collect all of the ticket revenue, with the exception of suite tickets, from every home game played at Reliant.
Another reason that Reliant Stadium is a good fit for Cougar fans to cheer on their team is the state of the art facilities Reliant Stadium can provide. With a retractable roof, students will be able to stay cool in an air-conditioned dome instead of slapping on the SPF-50 for those Saturday afternoon games in the early months of the season. Couple the dome with the newest addition at Reliant Stadium and I think Cougar fans will be very excited about the game day experience for Fall 2013.
Reliant Stadium is adding two new video boards that will be the widest in all of professional sports. According to the bleacherreport.com, they measure up to 14,549 square feet of highlight-watching, touchdown-replaying pleasure for fans on Saturday afternoons while the Cougars stomp their American Athletic Conference competition.
“When we built Reliant Stadium everybody looked at it and said, ‘Wow, there’s nothing like this in football,’” said CEO of Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show Leroy Schafer in an interview with the Houston Texans earlier this year. “We came to the end of the life of this board and we looked at it and said, ‘OK, we can just replace that up there, but let’s see what we can do to make it the best, let’s see what we can do to make it the biggest out there in the NFL, for the Rodeo, or whatever we may bring into Reliant Stadium.’”
Well, Mr. Schafer, “whatever” is going to turn into 30,000 plus screaming Cougar fans cheering on their team as it makes new strides in its new conference, and they’re ready for a state-of-the-art stadium of their own.
Opinion columnist Ciara Rouege is a print journalism junior. Opinion editor Euan Leith is journalism junior. They may be reached at [email protected]