Rice Stadium (Rice University)

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This article is about the football stadium at Rice University. For the renamed football stadium at the University of Utah, see Rice Stadium (University of Utah).
"Rice Stadium (Houston)" redirects here. For the track/soccer stadium, see Rice Track/Soccer Stadium.
Rice Stadium
Rice University Stadium.jpg
Former names Houston Stadium
Location 6100 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77005
Coordinates 29°42′59″N 95°24′33″W / 29.71639°N 95.40917°W / 29.71639; -95.40917Coordinates: 29°42′59″N 95°24′33″W / 29.71639°N 95.40917°W / 29.71639; -95.40917
Owner Rice University
Operator Rice University
Capacity 47,000
(expandable to 70,000)[1]
Surface Grass (1950–1969)
Astroturf (1970–2005)
FieldTurf (2006–present)
Construction
Broke ground February 1950
Opened September 30, 1950 (1950-09-30)
Construction cost $3,295,000
($32.3 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect Hermon Lloyd & W.B. Morgan and Milton McGinty [3]
General contractor Brown & Root Constructors
Tenants
Rice Owls (NCAA) (1950–present)
Houston Cougars (NCAA) (1951–1964)
Houston Oilers (AFL) (1965–1967)
Bluebonnet Bowl (NCAA) (1959–1967, 1985–1986)

Rice Stadium is an American football stadium located on the Rice University campus in Houston, Texas. It has been the home of the Rice Owls football team since its completion in 1950 and hosted Super Bowl VIII in 1974.

Architecturally, Rice Stadium is an example of modern architecture, with simple lines and an unadorned, functional design. The lower seating bowl is located below the surrounding ground level. Built solely for football, the stadium has excellent sightlines from almost every seat. To achieve this, the running track was eliminated so that spectators were closer to the action and each side of the upper decks was brought in at a concave angle to provide better sightlines. It is still recognized in many circles as the best stadium in Texas for watching a football game. Entrances and aisles were strategically placed so that the entire stadium could be emptied of spectators in nine minutes.[4]

In 2006, Rice University upgraded the facility by switching from AstroTurf to FieldTurf and adding a modern scoreboard above the north concourse.[5] Seating in the upper deck is in poor condition, which led the university to move home games for which large crowds were expected to nearby Reliant Stadium.

High school football games, especially neutral-site playoff games, are frequently played at Rice Stadium. It can also be used as a concert venue.

History[edit]

Rice Stadium replaced Rice Field (now Rice Track/Soccer Stadium), which had a total capacity of less than 37,000, in 1950.[6] The new stadium was subsidized by the City of Houston, and it was designed by Hermon Lloyd & W.B. Morgan and Milton McGinty and built by Brown and Root. In addition to Rice, the University of Houston football team played at Rice Stadium from 1951 to 1965, and the Bluebonnet Bowl was played there from 1959 to 1967 and again in 1985 and 1986. The Houston Oilers also played in the stadium from 1965 to 1967. In 1974, Rice Stadium hosted Super Bowl VIII, in which the Miami Dolphins beat the Minnesota Vikings 24–7. It was the first Super Bowl played in Houston, and it would be 30 years later that the Super Bowl would return to Houston, which was played at Reliant Stadium.

Kennedy speech[edit]

President Kennedy speaks at Rice Stadium on the American space program in 1962

On September 12, 1962, Rice Stadium hosted the speech in which President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to meet his goal, set the previous year, to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. In the speech, he used a reference to Rice University football to help frame his rhetoric:

"But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon! We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Kennedy's comments implied Rice had a history of losing to Texas; however, the two football teams had split 5–5 in their previous 10 meetings and would tie the following month. On the other hand, Kennedy's comments about Rice-Texas might have been as forward-looking as his statements about going to the moon: Since 1963, Rice has gone just 2-42 against Texas, including 28 straight losses between 1966 and 1993 and 12 straight from 1995 to the present.

Capacity reduction[edit]

As originally built, Rice Stadium seated 70,000, the second-largest stadium in the Southwest Conference (behind the Cotton Bowl). Rice Stadium was built before professional football came to Houston, and 70,000 fans might be expected to attend a college football game there. However, Rice found it increasingly difficult from the 1960s onward to compete against larger schools. In 2006, the end zones seats were covered with tarps, reducing seating capacity to 50,000. The stadium can be reconfigured to its original capacity, which is larger than the total number of Rice's living and deceased alumni. The average attendance for Rice football games in Rice Stadium in 13,353 in 2007.[7] For the 2008 season, average home attendance was 20,179.[8] During the 2009 season, average home attendance dipped once again to 13,552 per game.[9] However, for the 2012 season it was 20,325.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rice Stadium". Retrieved March 30, 2009. 
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "AIA 50 Year Award: Rice Stadium". Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  4. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/print-edition/2012/06/22/rice-stadium-a-remarkable-gridiron.html?page=all
  5. ^ "Rice Stadium Renovations". Rice University Athletics. Retrieved February 24, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Old Rice Field". Retrieved December 26, 2007. 
  7. ^ "NCAA Accumulated Attendance Report 2007" (PDF). Retrieved August 6, 2008. 
  8. ^ "NCAA Accumulated Attendance Report 2008". Retrieved October 31, 2009. 
  9. ^ "NCAA Accumulated Attendance Report 2009". 
  10. ^ "NCAA Accumulated Attendance Report 2012". NCAA. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by

first stadium
Astrodome
Home of the
Bluebonnet Bowl

1959 – 1967
1985 – 1986
Succeeded by
Astrodome
Preceded by
Jeppesen Stadium
Home of the
Houston Oilers

1965 – 1967
Succeeded by
Astrodome
Preceded by
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Host of Super Bowl VIII
1974
Succeeded by
Tulane Stadium