HOUSTON, TX - MAY 12: Fans watch the Houston Dynamo play D.C. United during the first half of a MLS game at BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images)
As you all know by now, the Houston Dynamo have finally moved out of Robertson Stadium on the University of Houston campus and into their sparkling new BBVA Compass Stadium just east of downtown Houston, across the highway from Minute Maid Park. With my new MLS gig and its post-game duties, I was forced to abandon my bus ride/ticket and drive down solo which was actually kind of nice in the sense that I could leave two hours later and Mario Kart down there in my car.
The first impression you get of the area is driving outside of the stadium down a street lined with tailgaters. It's a really cool looking scene and certainly intimidating towards opposing fans. Imagine if the field between the Londoner and FCD Stadium packed with tailgaters was the first thing you see as you get near the stadium. Very, very cool.
Second impression was what a disaster parking is for the fan who may not be terribly familiar with the area. Whereas you can park across the street from the stadium in Frisco for free, most parking around BBVA is $20, though I was able to find a lot across the highway near Minute Maid for $10. I had to stay after the game with work duties so I wasn't caught up in any post-game traffic, but I have to imagine that is a big problem.(though a good problem to have)
Thank goodness they moved the game to 6:30PM. What a difference it makes from 4-6:30 as I was pretty much drenched in sweat from just the walk to my car up to the stadium. I passed quite a few FC Dallas jerseys on the walk which was pretty neat, but man was it hot. The stadium really just looks like a spaceship from the outside and I'm not really sure whether I like it or not, but it's certainly unique which is always good.
As I got inside the stadium, I noticed the wide concourses, and while there look to be more points of purchase around the concourses, it doesn't beat the fact that you can walk around the concourses at FCD Stadium and arguably have the best view in the whole place. On to the press box...
It's definitely different from FCD Stadium, that's for sure. I actually had some trouble finding where to go, being used to looking for the elevators marked press box, but in Houston it is at field level. In a cool touch, there are old Houston Chronicle newspapers from the Houston championships printed onto the walls where the press box is...I guess I could've found it easier had I put 2 and 2 together.
The view is at a field level which takes a little bit of getting used to, but we were lucky enough to be on the side where most of the action was including the second half scuffle. The hospitality from the Houston staff and media was fantastic.
Overall thoughts, I would put BBVA Compass Stadium near the top of the SSS's I've been to. It's not LiveSTRONG Sporting Park, but then again nothing else is in MLS either. I'd still rate Red Bull Arena ahead of it just because of the overall cool factor being in New York as well as the double bowl seating design and a better roof but other than those two, it's tough to top Houston's new place. Compared to Robertson Stadium, it's just night and day how neat this place is and I dream of an FCD-Houston MLS Cup Final there.