From sports to the arts, Houston has something for everyone. “Houston’s Countless Attractions, Hobbies, and Pastimes” treats entertainment-minded readers to a detailed review of the diversions and activities available to the city’s residents and visitors. Also featured are listings of performing arts companies and venues, museums, golf courses, and a handy calendar of annual Houston area events.
Are you looking for some sports fun?
You’re in the proper city – whether you like shelling peanuts at the ball game, defogging your opera glasses for a night at the theater, hoisting your sails for a tour on Galveston Bay, or strolling amid the blooming gardens of a historic mansion-turned-museum.
The crack of the bat. The swoosh of the net. The roar of the crowds. The sports scene is crackling in Houston, the only city in the nation to build three new, high-tech indoor sports arenas in three years.
“Having three new public sporting facilities is very positive for Houston,” said Bob MacNair, owner of the National Football League (NFL) Houston Texans. “It says to the rest of the world that we can do extraordinary things. People now recognize Houston for having the best sports facilities in any city in the country. There was a time when people questioned Houston’s commitment to sports, and they don’t question it anymore.”
For football fans, Reliant Stadium is the only NFL stadium with a retractable roof. Home to the Houston Texans, who played their first season in 2002, Reliant Stadium can seat 72,000 fans. The state-of-art facility was a huge factor in bringing Super Bowl XXXVIII to Houston.
“Without the new stadium, Houston wouldn’t have had the Super Bowl, which was a way to showcase the city that could not have been done otherwise,” McNair said. “The Super Bowl put Houston on display for 144 million people.”
Reliant Stadium also serves as home to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which attracts almost 1.9 million visitors each spring.
Minute Maid Park
Minute Maid Park, home to the Houston Astros baseball team since 2000, combines the high technology of a retractable roof stadium with the history of the railroad’s importance to Houston. Fans enter Minute Maid Park through Union Station, which features a replica of a 19th-century train (circa 1860) running along the low roof track on the ballpark’s west side.
The field’s 242-foot-high retractable roof allows views of Houston’s downtown skyline when the weather is excellent, and the top remains open. Minute Maid is the first central sports facility to feature a closed-caption board for the deaf.
The overall seating capacity at the ballpark is 40,950, spread throughout nine different seating areas. Each park’s four levels – Main Concourse, Club Level, Suite Level, and Upper Concourse – give fans a different perspective of the action on the field.
The Toyota Center, Houston’s newest multipurpose arena, is home to the National Basketball Association (NBA) Houston Rockets (1994 – 1995 NBA champions), the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Houston Comets, who claimed four WNBA championships from 1997 through 2000, and the 2003 American Hockey League champion Houston Aeros.
The state-of-the-art facility, located at Crawford and Clay streets in downtown Houston, accommodates an estimated 18,300 patrons for basketball, 17,800 for hockey, and 19,000 for concerts. It features 94 luxury suites.
Houston Pro Sports Teams
Whether you’re a spectator or a budding athlete, the Houston area offers many ways to enjoy a wide variety of sports. From professional women’s football to college sports to hot-air ballooning to Little League soccer, Houston sports enthusiasts have their pick.
Houston has professional teams representing every major sport. Among them are:
Houston Aeros, American Hockey League Champions, Toyota Center (713-758-7200);
Houston Astros, Major League Baseball division champions (1997 – 1999, 2004), Minute Maid Park (713-259-8000);
Houston Comets, four-time WNBA champions (1997 – 2000), Toyota Center (713-758-7200);
Houston Energy, three-time Women’s Professional Football League champions (2000 – 2002), Dyer Stadium (713-926-7677);
Houston Rockets, two-time NBA champions (1994 – 1995), Toyota Center (713-758-7200); and
Houston Texans, National Football League, Reliant Stadium (832-667-2000).
Ticket and schedule information can be obtained at each team’s ticket office. Several ticket agencies also serve as clearinghouses for tickets to sporting events and other venues.
Pro Sports Schedule
For schedule information for Houston’s professional teams and seating charts of significant arenas, please refer to the “Schedules” section at the end of this publication, beginning on page 248.
College Sports in Houston
Houston Baptist University Huskies (281-649-3342)
Rice University Owls — The men’s and women’s teams won the Western Athletic Conference Track & Field Championships. In contrast, the Rice baseball team won the College World Series in collegiate Baseball (713-348-4068).
Texas Southern University Tigers — The Tigers of Texas Southern claimed their first South-western Athletic Conference Baseball Title in 2004 (713-313-7270)
The University of Houston Cougars (713-743-9444)
Houston Adult & Youth Leagues
Houston’s year-round moderate climate enables Houstonians to get out and play. Many residents take advantage of programs offered by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s Athletic Office. From March to September, 550 softball teams coordinated through the City of Houston hit the diamonds. From September to November, 30 football teams compete in flag football. From November to February, the basketball season attracts 75 teams.
For more information about these activities and the numerous sporting clubs available, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 713-845-1000.
The Houston Youth Diamond Sports League, also associated with the Parks and Recreation Department, is affiliated with Major League Baseball’s RBI program (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities). This program offers youth, ages 4 to 18, an opportunity to participate in T-ball, Baseball, and girls’ softball at all skill levels. For teams that qualify, there is an opportunity to compete in the World Series competition. Players also are eligible to be selected for the Major League Baseball National Team, which competes in the amateur Baseball World Championship Tournament.
Houston Sporting Clubs
Want to try a sport a bit out of the ordinary? Houston boasts several sporting clubs, from archery to auto racing, backpacking, bicycling, fencing, golfing, hot-air ballooning, squash, and juggling. Contact the Houston Parks and Recreation Department at 713-845-1000 or other area city parks and recreation departments.