Game Review: Army Black Knights vs Rice Owls 10/24/2015 11am
Weather: Typhoon conditions; Price $20 for $30 face from scalper; Parking $5
“About what you’d expect” by Tree
Rice Stadium is exactly as Shady described in his review below from 2013. Two years later, it is still way too big for the Owls. The video scoreboard was no longer working, but a renovation is underway which will include a new video scoreboard on top of new football team facilities. We paid $20 for our seats in the lower deck from a season ticket holder with $30 face value tickets looking to avoid watching the game in the rain. There were plenty of seats available at the gate for $20 upper deck seats. I don’t recall ushers checking our tickets so I think you could go down to the lower level and take any unoccupied seat. They are standard benches so I wished I had brought my seatbacks with me. The concessions are pretty average but the prices are very reasonable. No souvenir cup though so the Owls aren’t represented on my wall as of yet. The stadium is old, but it is wide open and you can easily stroll from one end to the other.
I can’t really comment on the fans and their various traditions, as there were hardly any of them at the game. I can’t blame them as the weather was fairly miserable. There were as many Army fans as there were Rice fans. The Rice Band is supposed to be an irreverent group similar to Stanford. I would say irrelevant is a more apt description given how small the band actually is.
Logistics: Getting to Rice was simple enough. Located in bucolic West University in Houston, there’s not really and signage to the stadium, but the GPS found it easy enough. Parking was only $5 and it was wide open for tailgating. It was a wet but warm day for an 11am kickoff so we did a breakfast tailgate doing pancakes, bacon and of course, beer. Given that it was raining pretty hard, we didn’t see any Owls tailgating in our area. There were, however, several other Army alumni tailgaters. Like many schools these days, Rice did have a fan zone set up on the other side of the stadium with a mix of school and local business tents set up. We did not partake in any of those activities.
This turned out to be a surprisingly competitive game that went down to the wire. Army’s program has not been strong for a number of years, but they usually are good enough to make at least the first half competitive. So when Rice jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter, it looked like this was going to be a game where the one-half minimum was invoked. However, the Black Knights toughened up and managed to close the first half score to 24-14. So we hunkered down in the rain in the second half, waiting for the inevitable Army collapse. However, that never game. The Knights clawed their way back, eventually tying up the game with two minutes left. My companions and I agreed that Army should have gone for the lead there instead of the tie. Their defense was gassed and we felt Rice would have no problem moving down the field for the win. The Owls did just that, scoring the winning touchdown with twenty-four seconds left. Army doesn’t exactly have a quick strike offense and they were unable to score to send the game into OT.
Despite the heavy rain and light crowd, we had a great time at the game. With me on that day were two buddies from work and one, Kevin, was an alum from Army. So we had good interaction with the Army fans and alums tailgating. When we went into the stadium, Rich and I went to check out the restrooms, while Kevin went straight to our seats. When Rich and I got to our seats, Kevin was nowhere to be found. Since he went to West Point, Rich and I just assumed that he had saw some buddies and was hanging out with them on the visitors side. With about two minutes to go in the first half, Kevin shows up and asks where we have been. Of course, Rich and I were dumbfounded because we hadn’t moved from our seats for the whole first half. Turns out that Kevin had sat one section over from where our seats were. It was just far enough that we could not see him. The poor guy sat by himself for almost the entire half.
The attendance for this game was around 24,000. It is a number that in no way represent the paltry number of fans in attendance. The weather undoubtedly had an impact but Rice also resorted to a half-time show which incorporated just about every youth cheerleading team in Houston. Without those parents in attendance, the number of spectators would have been even worse. I have seen that cheerleading bit before and I must admit, it is a very cute show.
Shady’s review of the Rice experience is spot on. It is a nice weekend diversion to take the kids to, but it won’t be confused with a big time college football game. Even with the upcoming renovations to the stadium, that general assessment is not likely to change.
Game Review: Kansas Jayhawks vs Rice Owls 9/14/2013 7:30pm
“Bring the Kids” by Shady
Back in its glory days, Rice stadium hosted a Super Bowl, the Bluebonnet Bowl, the Houston Oilers for a few years, and was the site of a speech from President John F. Kennedy. Although there is a lot of history in this stadium, it still looks about the same now as it did back then which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
At one point in time, Rice Stadium had a capacity of 70,000 but end zone seats were removed a few years back and replaced with two large “Rice” tarps. The tarps reduced the capacity to 47,000 but even with that reduction, the stadium looks pretty empty for most games. The stadium itself is kind of dank and dark, especially when you stand in the shadow of the cement upper deck or go inside the restrooms. The stadium has a video board in one end which would have been nice about 15 years ago, but it is old and outdated now.
Rice stadium will never be confused with a nearby Big 12 or SEC venue in terms of stadium amenities, big game atmosphere, big-time tailgating, level of play on the field or overall fan experience. That said, there are some things that make taking in a game at Rice Stadium appealing.
Rice offers the following:
- Cheap tickets — a family of four can get in for $60. That is less than one ticket at many venues around the country.
- Free parking just a few steps from the stadium — always a bonus.
- Lots of space to spread out. This is especially nice if you want to bring young kids to a game and they have trouble sitting still for long periods of time.
- Decent concessions. Papa John’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A, and local barbeque are a few of the options you have for food.
- True college athletes. You have to be a good student to go to Rice. Most of these kids worked very hard both academically and athletically to get where they are.
If you want an electric college football atmosphere, you won’t get it at Rice Stadium. But if you want to take some young kids to experience their first college football game and not break the bank doing it, this isn’t a bad place to go.
As for the game itself, it is always an exciting time when a tiny school like Rice beats up on a team from one of the Big 5 Power Conferences. The game winning points for Rice game in the 4th quarter when the kicker nailed his third field goal of the game, this one a 57 yarder to put the Owls up 16-14 on the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas squandered a couple possessions late and Rice put the game away with a couple minutes to go by tacking on its first offensive touchdown of the game to seal the 23-14 victory. Go Owls!