Reliant Stadium Event Guide – Texans Game Day

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This is where you want to be in Houston on Sundays

Cooler weather, fantasy leagues, brighter Mondays, later Thursdays, and a new meaning to #sundayfunday can only mean one thing — football season has arrived. I kicked off my football season at Reliant Stadium for the Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans game and what a way to start the season. Besides witnessing one of the best games of the season thus far, Texans fans know how to throw down for a football game, especially when facing their division foes. In an ironic rivalry twist, as much as Texans fans despise the Tennessee Titans, it’s the Titans they have to thank for their beloved Houston Texans franchise which only fuels this competitive fire, and it shows. But rivalries aside, Reliant Stadium is a great place to experience the NFL.

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Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans from section 104 row JJ

I arrived to the Blue parking lot roughly an hour before kickoff and was shocked to see complete an utter chaos in the form of tailgating, it was awesome! When I say chaos I don’t mean a crazy R rated madhouse, I mean all ages in a completely succinct state of mind with one goal — root for the Texans. From DJs surrounded by flat screens to mini football fields in the parking lot, Houston Texans fans have  tailgating down to a science. If you are ever heading to Houston for a game I recommend an early arrival to experience what may be the greatest tailgate you ever attend.

If you have ever been to Houston than you know about the evil cloak the rest of us like to call humidity. It’s not pleasant. Thankfully the people of Houston feel the same and decided to create an indoor stadium complete with AC and retractable roof for those scarce “San Diego-like” Texas days. Though the AC was a huge plus, the atmosphere come game time was the best part. It was like the tailgate moved into the stadium without skipping a beat. I have never given more random high fives in my entire life and I’m not even a Texans fan, GO NINERS! (editor’s note: meh)

I am a huge fan of 50-yard-line seats, but it’s hard to complain about any lower level seat in Reliant Stadium. In fact the whole stadium utilizes the space well leaving few bad seats. The seats are as close to straight up as they can be which really puts the fans in the game. It was by far the loudest football game I have ever been to and you can’t help but join in with 70,000+ cheering fans. My wife and I were in the last row of section 104 just under the second level overhang. What I really liked about these seats is that they provided multiple hanging TV’s that displayed exactly what the two (non-visible) jumbo-trons at each end zone were showing. All in all I would and will make it back to many more Texans games and recommend it to all football fans.

Houston Texans Seating Chart at Reliant Stadium

Houston Texans Seating Chart at Reliant Stadium

As far as concessions are concerned, I think there is an overall agreement that from High School to NFL football all concessions are too expensive. Now that we got that out of the way, beer at Reliant was fairly moderate and it came in a bottom up glass. If you have never experience the bottom up draft, it is a cup that fills from the bottom up. IMPORTANT NOTE…if you only take one thing away from this blog let this be it, the hole at the bottom of the glass does not lock so don’t try to push it in. Your beer will end up in your lap and that’s no good for anyone involved, trust me.

To finish up, if you ever get a chance to attend a game that players from your fantasy team will be playing in, do it…and start those players. It was pretty sweet seeing Ben Tate bust out on a 60 yard run down the sideline and watching the rookie, DeAndre Hopkins, go up and grab the game winning touchdown to give me a 2-0 start in my fantasy league.

You can catch the Texans at Reliant Stadium this weekend (Sep. 29) against the Seattle Sehawks which is likely to be a great game. Houston will also be hosting some of the best quarterbacks in the league this year starting with Andrew Luck and the Colts on November 3. It’s Texans vs. Patriots and their future HOFer on December 1, and then Peyton Manning’s Broncos on December 22.

The Energy at Gexa

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A couple of weeks ago I made my second visit to the Gexa Energy Pavilion to see John Mayer. The Pavilion sits right next to the Cotton Bowl Stadium on the Texas State Fair grounds and is one of my top venues for concerts. Gexa is able to hold just over 20,000 and has one of the biggest lawns I have ever been to.

Getting There
Getting to the Gexa Energy Pavilion can be a bit exhausting due to the traffic, but the great thing about Dallas is that there are tons of shortcuts off the highway to avoid all the traffic. My wife and I were sitting in an outrageously long line at the exit for Gexa and decided to try and navigate it ourselves via smartphone. It was surprisingly simple and I recommend it to everyone going to the pavilion. Navigating around the line into the parking lot of the Gexa Energy Pavilion is something you can’t avoid, but (don’t take my word for it because I may have just gotten lucky) parking is free. I don’t know if it was a one-time deal or what but I parked in the back lot and was not charged a fee – keeping my fingers crossed that it will be the same for my next visit to the pavilion.

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Gexa Energy Pavilion Seating Chart

Where to Sit
For both the John Mayer show and my first visit, which was a Lil Wayne concert back when the pavilion was named the Smirnoff Music Centre, I had lawn seats. Though the sections offer great seating (literally every seat has a fantastic view) the Lawn is one of the best lawns I have sat in. It is a bit steeper than most lawns, allowing for a clearer view over anyone who sits in front of you. There are a few spots where your view could get blocked by the pillars holding the pavilion roof, but other than that most of the lawn offers a great seat for any show. Obviously the closer the better, but with two screens on both sides of the stage, you’re really not going to miss much in the back. I was sitting on the left side of the stage for the JM concert and had a great line of sight the whole time and was able to get the shot below during “Gravity”. My lawn seats for the Lil Wayne show slowly turned into section 202 seats as the section was nowhere near filled and the staff was pretty cool about letting us move into them once Weezy had been on for 20 or 30 minutes.

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John Mayer at Gexa Energy Pavilion

Sound Quality
The sound at Gexa is phenomenal and the crowd is extremely energetic, no pun intended. I don’t know if it was because of Mayer or if it’s just a Gexa Energy Pavilion thing but the crowd was really into it which only made JM that much better. The guy was ten folds better than when I saw him in 2010 (yes the show I proposed at) but the Frank Erwin crowd was nowhere near as excited as the Gexa crowd. Knowing I planned to write this post after the show, I decided to move around a bit and see what the sound quality was like all over the pavilion.

If you can find a spot where the sound has imperfections let me know because I couldn’t find any. Literally every spot gets the same outlandishly clear sound that makes a live show so unforgettably good.

Upcoming Shows & Events
If you have never been I would definitely recommend catching one of your favorites at the Gexa Energy Pavilion. The line-up is stacked with acts like Wiz Khalifa & ASAP Rocky, Matchbox Twenty & The Goo Goo Dolls, Lil Wayne, T.I. & 2 Chaninz, Mumford & Sons, Depeche Mode, Fun., and the Honda Civic Tour featuring Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson. The 2013 line-up at Gexa also includes a festivals such as the Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, and the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival with Dave Chappelle and Flight of the Concords. For more acts check out our Gexa Energy Pavilion Page and get some tickets to see your favorite act at one of my favorite venues.

City Sports Preview: Dallas, TX

Dallas, TX is bursting with opportunities for sports fans to get out and see their favorite teams. When it comes to fan experiences, Dallas/Ft Worth has you covered no matter what time of year.

Austin’s New Amphitheatre

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I covered my experiences with the Frank Erwin Center last month and found that it helped quite a few people make some decisions on seats, parking, and what to look forward to when heading to the venue. This month I am looking at Austin’s newest member to the massive family of venues, the Austin360 Amphitheater.

I was ecstatic to hear Austin was bringing in an amphitheater, and when they announced it would live right in the middle of the Circuit of the Americas F1 racing grounds and I couldn’t wait to check it out. Sometimes when you hold such high expectations for something you end up being disappointed. Let me be the first to say this is not the case for the Austin360 Amphitheater.

My first visit out to A360 was the venues debut and Kenny Chesney was taking the stage. Though I will admit $20 for parking was a bit lofty for me and the walk can get pretty far depending on the lot you have to park in, the staff goes out of their way to make up for it. First of all I have never been to an event where the traffic flows with such ease upon entering and exiting. Along with an extremely friendly traffic control staff the venue offers a free shuttle to and from the entrance (as well as an army of pedicabs).

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Seating Chart for Austin360 Amphitheater

Having seen Chesney twice before at the Erwin Center and FC Dallas Stadium I knew the show was going to be good regardless of the venue. Like I said before, the 360 Amphitheater did not disappoint. I had lawn seats and my only suggestion for this section is if you are a stickler about being in the front get there early because it fills fast. Don’t worry if you don’t get there early enough because the lawn is elevated so you won’t have to deal with me (the tall guy that stands in front of you at every show). The grass is thick and lush making for a great seat (even though most everyone in the lawn stands for the whole show) but blankets and seat-back chairs (chairs that don’t have legs) are acceptable. My most recent visit to the Austin 360 Amphitheater was at Dave Matthews Band, I didn’t sit in the lawn but noticed an additional riser with tables and a full service bar which would have been hell-a-nice at Chesney. The view from the lawn depends on where you get situated at but the sound is just as good as the front row. There are giant screens on each side of the stage and they are plenty big to satisfy your viewing needs. All in all, the lawn is a great, cheaper way to get in on a great show. I already snagged two lawn tickets to the Mumford & Sons show in June and can’t wait to get back to the amphitheater.

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Dave Matthews Band at Austin360 Amphitheater

Last time I had tickets to see DMB was in 2009 at ACL, the year it poured all weekend and led me to leave before getting a chance to see one of my favorite bands. I was not about to miss Dave the second time around. My wife and I sat in the back of section 105 on row U and it was amazing. I know what you’re thinking too, it was your favorite band of course you thought it was amazing. Well you’re right but that doesn’t mean the venue didn’t have a role in my enjoyment as well. The picture at the top and to the right were both taken from my seat to give you a perspective of the view from section 105. The 100′s sections are all very similar so you can expect the same view in 101-107. The 200 section is a bit further back but still not bad and all the seats are roomy and comfortable (for amphitheater chairs).

My biggest complaint is the price of the booze. Domestic 16 oz. beers were $8-8.50 and the imports were a dollar more and after everything you spend to get into the joint nobody wants to pay that much for a beer. There is a solution though and I have seen tons of people taking advantage of it so far. They allow tailgating in the parking lot prior to the show. Tents, beer pong, washers, and corn-hole, I have seen it all out in the parking lot which is cool because the concession stand will win the battle with your wallet.

The Austin360 Amphitheater is a great place to catch a concert and I keep telling people to go check it out. With Mumford & Sons scheduled for two shows in June, Wiz Khalifa & ASAP Rocky in July, Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson in September, and Lil Wayne & T.I., Train, and Keith Urban in between there are plenty of good times to be had at Austin360. Check out A360′s full schedule and get tickets to your favorite artist.

The Frank Erwin Center

Having lived in Austin, Texas for the majority of my life I have become quite acquainted with our largest indoor arena, the Frank Erwin Center. I have seen everything from basketball games to concerts at the Frank Erwin Center; I even proposed to my wife at a John Mayer concert back in 2010. I have sat in almost every area of the venue and you might be surprised to hear which seats gave me the best experience during my time in the audience at the Erwin Center.

Before you get into the Frank Erwin Center you have to find a place to park, but don’t worry because there are plenty of garages within an easy walking distance. The closest non-reserved lots are on Red River and are literally right next to the venue, but get there early if you want any chance at snagging a spot before the crowd shows up. The rest of the parking garages surrounding the Frank Erwin Center are all approximately the same distance with the exception of a few that are more south on Trinity. The majority of the parking is between San Jacinto and Trinity. These two roads run parallel to each other creating block after block of parking garages. There are also some parking garages on the University of Texas campus at Red River and Robert Dedman Drive that can be used as well. Prices to all the garages vary but offer a much better alternative to calculating how much money you need to give the pay-to-park meter in hopes that you’ll be back before the time expires…because it will expire.

The first concert I went to at the Frank Erwin Center was Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in 1999. The show was a part of their Echo Tour and I was far too young to get 80% of the undertone in all of their songs but I loved the music. The only thing I can accurately recall from our seats is that we were not at the top but the floor was not in front of us which leads me to believe we were in the arena seating. I was 13 at the time but I can remember being able to see Tom Petty fairly well. I wouldn’t say they were the best seats I’ve had but they were not the worst either.

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Another concert that is a bit fuzzy in my memory is Shania Twain. I do remember being on the floor but in the second to last row in the first section. I was young so seeing over 6 foot plus people was a much larger task than it is now. My recommendation for floor seating is to go big or get in the telescoping risers. If you’re not in the first ten or so rows of each of the floor sections visual acuity will become somewhat of a challenge due to the lack of elevation. The risers however offer the perfect elevation per row and are a great spot to enjoy the show from. I caught the John Mayer show from the section 43 arena risers and could see everything pretty vividly. Though the seats were good enough for a proposal to my wife, they were not my favorite.

My most recent trip to the Erwin Center was March of 2013 to see Eric Clapton and the Wallflowers. I took my brother-in-law and we sat in the arena level’s section 34. In looking at the map you might think that a spot all the way on the right side of the stage is the least compelling of all. I did too until I saw the show from that perspective. I know that this is almost 100% opinion but for me being able to see the entire band interact was one of the best concert experiences I have had and will lead me to get more seats on the side of stages. The view from the arena level provides enough clarity to see the performance and not have to decipher little fuzzy people to tell who you are watching. Sitting on the side of the stage versus sitting directly in front of the stage allows you to view the stage with depth and the ability to catch all the interactions between the bands set. I would agree that this will vary depending on the show but if you ever get a chance to catch a show from stage side I would still recommend it.

I’ve had many memories at Frank Erwin Center and am excited to continue to make more. There are tons of good acts coming through Austin in the next couple of months including Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney & Bruno Mars and now you know where the best seat in the house is.