Sports in Texas

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Texas is home of several national sports league franchises among other professional sports, being the second most populated U.S. state. Since the state is located in the South Central United States, most teams are part of the Central / South or West league divisions, with the notable exception of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, which is an NFC East franchise.

American football[edit]

Tony Romo, former quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys

Many Texans are passionate about American football and intensely follow high school and college football teams — often they dominate social and leisure activity. Professional football is also intensely popular in Texas, and the state is home to two National Football League (NFL) franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

The Cowboys, founded in 1960, are one of the most popular teams in the league and have fans in many parts of the United States, leading to the nickname "America's Team". They are also one of the most successful, having reached eight Super Bowls and won five (tied with the San Francisco 49ers & the New England Patriots for second all-time). The Cowboys play their home games at AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington, into which they moved in 2009 after having spent 38 years at Texas Stadium in Irving.

The Texans were founded in 2002 and play their home games at NRG Stadium, the first NFL stadium with a retractable roof. From 1960 to 1996, Houston was home to another professional football team, the Houston Oilers, who started in the American Football League (AFL) in 1960 and joined the NFL in 1970. The Oilers played their home games at the Astrodome, but the failure of team owner Bud Adams to reach an agreement with the city on a new stadium led to his moving the franchise to Nashville, Tennessee, where it was renamed the Tennessee Titans.


Nolan Ryan, has pitched for both the Astros and Rangers.

Baseball has a strong presence in Texas, with two Major League Baseball teams. The Houston Astros started playing in 1962. The Texas Rangers debuted in 1972 after relocating from Washington, D.C. In 2005, the Astros became the first team in Texas to make it to the World Series. The Rangers followed the Astros in 2010 to their first World Series and the following year as well. In 2017 the Astros became the first team in Texas to win the World Series.

Minor League Baseball is also closely followed in Texas—especially in the smaller metropolitan areas. Two teams play at the Triple-A Pacific Coast League: the Round Rock Express and El Paso Chihuahuas. The state will have a third PCL team in the 2019 season when the Colorado Springs Sky Sox relocate to San Antonio and take up the identity of the San Antonio Missions, a team that now plays in the Double-A Texas League. The current Missions team is one of four Texas teams in the latter league, with the others being the Corpus Christi Hooks, Frisco RoughRiders, and Midland RockHounds. Once the Sky Sox move to San Antonio, the Double-A version of the Missions will relocate to Amarillo and play under a name yet to be determined. The Fort Worth Cats were a team in Fort Worth that won 3 straight championships in independent leagues, one in the Central Baseball League and the last two in the American Association.

College baseball is also quite popular, as Texas A&M University, Rice University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Houston, Baylor University, Texas Tech University, and Texas Christian University have all made multiple College World Series appearances.


Tim Duncan, a San Antonio Spurs player

Basketball is also popular, and Texas hosts three NBA teams: the San Antonio Spurs, the Houston Rockets, and the Dallas Mavericks. All three have won championships, however the Spurs having won at least 50 games over the past 15 seasons and 5 NBA championships, are arguably the best professional franchise in Texas sports and are considered one of the best NBA franchises in history. The Houston Rockets did however distinguish themselves as the first team in Texas to win an NBA Championship and are currently the only team in Texas to have back-to-back NBA Championships.

Additionally, Texas is home to two WNBA teams, the San Antonio Stars and the Dallas Wings, the latter of which relocated from Tulsa, Oklahoma after the 2015 season. The state had another WNBA team, the Houston Comets, before its demise at the end of the 2008 season. The Comets were the winners of the first four WNBA Championships in league history, from 1997–2000.

At the collegiate level, the state is home to one NCAA Division I Men's Championship team, the Texas Western Miners (now UTEP Miners) team who won the 1966 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament (the historic predecessor to today's Division I men's tournament). In women's collegiate basketball, several teams have won championships, including the Texas Tech Lady Raiders, Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, and Baylor Lady Bears.

Horse racing[edit]

From 1905–1915, people in Dallas and Fort Worth turned out by the thousands for horse racing, which was usually tied to the state fair schedule. Dallas established a Jockey Club early on. The Fort Worth Driving Club (for owners of Standardbred trotters and pacers) had 101 members when it opened in 1905. Trotters raced at a park in Fort Worth, but both cities attracted thousands of people for each style of racing.[1]

Lone Star Park, in the Dallas–Fort Worth suburb of Grand Prairie, hosted the Breeders' Cup, the climax to the American Thoroughbred racing season, in 2004.

Ice hockey[edit]

Dallas Stars center Mike Modano in 2006.

Ice hockey has been a growing participatory sport in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the Minnesota North Stars of the National Hockey League (NHL) became the Dallas Stars in 1993. The Stars made the Stanley Cup playoffs their first year in Dallas and remained competitive through the rest of decade, culminating in a Stanley Cup championship in 1999. The team returned to the Stanley Cup Finals the next year, only to lose to the New Jersey Devils. In addition to the 1999 Stanley Cup and 2000 Western Conference championship, the team has also won two President's Trophies as the NHL's regular-season points champion and seven division titles.

Prior to the advent of the Stars, top-tier professional ice hockey existed in Texas in the form of the Houston Aeros, who played in the World Hockey Association (WHA) from 1973 to 1978. The team was notable for featuring hockey legend Gordie Howe, who was lured out of retirement by the prospect of playing alongside his sons, Mark and Marty. Led by the Howes, the Aeros won back-to-back Avco World Trophies as the WHA champions in 1974 and 1975. The Aeros folded after they failed to gain admission into the NHL, first as part of a merger between the WHA and NHL and then as an expansion team.

Minor league professional hockey has also become popular in the last several decades. The Houston Huskies played in the old United States Hockey League (USHL) and won its championship in 1948, led by legendary NHL coach Toe Blake. In 1994, Houston received a franchise in the International Hockey League (IHL), which was named the Aeros after the city's old WHA side. The new Aeros won the IHL's Turner Cup in 1999. In 2001, the team transferred to the American Hockey League (AHL) after the IHL's demise; it won the AHL's Calder Cup in 2003 and reached the Calder Cup Finals in 2011. The AHL has established two more teams in Texas since that time – the San Antonio Rampage (owned by the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and affiliated with the NHL's Colorado Avalanche) began play in 2002, and the Texas Stars (an AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars based in the Austin suburb of Cedar Park), began play seven years later. In 2013 the Aeros would leave Texas to become the Iowa Wild.

Between 1992 and 2014, the Central Hockey League had fifteen different teams based in Texas and as many as nine from 2002 to 2005. However, by the CHL's final season, only the Allen Americans remained. The Americans would join the ECHL in 2014 and go on to win the championship in their first season in the league.


Soccer is the fastest growing sport in the state.[citation needed] The old North American Soccer League had teams in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Houston, and in San Antonio. The Dallas Tornado played between 1968–1981, the Houston Stars played for one season in 1968, and the San Antonio Thunder played for two seasons, 1975–1976. Houston returned to the league in 1978 as the Hurricanes and played until 1980. Soccer returned to Texas with the 1994 FIFA World Cup with the Cotton Bowl hosting matches.

In 1996, the Dallas Burn was born as one of ten founding member of Major League Soccer, which is the current Division 1 professional soccer league overseen by the U.S. Soccer Federation. The Dallas Burn were later renamed FC Dallas with a new logo and colors, and now play in a soccer-specific stadium called Toyota Stadium in Frisco. A second Texas team, the Houston Dynamo, joined MLS in 2006. The Dynamo won the MLS Cup in their first year in Houston, and again in their second year in 2007. The Dynamo now play at BBVA Compass Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium near downtown Houston.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has stated publicly that a third city in Texas —either San Antonio or Austin— is under consideration for a possible MLS expansion franchise. Currently, only San Antonio has a professional minor league soccer team — San Antonio FC play in the now second-tier United Soccer League. The Austin Aztex are on a hiatus from the same league while seeking to build a new stadium. San Antonio also has a men's semi pro soccer team called Genova FC San Antonio and plays in TPSL and competes in the US Open Cup.

In 2014, the Houston Dash, owned and operated by the Dynamo and also playing in BBVA Compass Stadium, joined the National Women's Soccer League, the country's current top-level women's league.


Originally, most Texas Division I universities were part of the Southwest Conference until it dissolved in 1996. The twelve schools whose football teams compete at the Division I FBS level are the Baylor Bears, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Longhorns, and Texas Tech Red Raiders of the Big 12 Conference; the Texas A&M Aggies of the Southeastern Conference; the SMU Mustangs and Houston Cougars of the American Athletic Conference; the North Texas Mean Green, Rice Owls, UTEP Miners, and UTSA Roadrunners of Conference USA; and the Texas State Bobcats of the Sun Belt Conference. Texas has the most FBS schools in the United States.

According to a survey of Division I FBS coaches, the rivalry between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin, the Red River Shootout, ranks the third best in the nation.[2] A fierce rivalry, the Lone Star Showdown, also exists between the two state's largest universities, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas. This athletic rivalry has been put on hold after the Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012. The SMU Mustangs and Texas Christian University Horned Frogs have a rivalry called the Battle for the Iron Skillet. The Houston–Rice rivalry exists between the University of Houston and Rice University with a large focus on the Bayou Bucket Classic.

Texas is home to many other Division I programs with football teams competing in Division I FCS. These include the Abilene Christian Wildcats, Houston Baptist Huskies, Incarnate Word Cardinals, Lamar Cardinals, Sam Houston State Bearkats, and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks of the Southland Conference and the Prairie View A&M Panthers and Texas Southern Tigers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Rivalries include the Battle of the Piney Woods between Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin and another between Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern.

In addition, the state has three Division I programs that do not sponsor football—the Texas A&M–Corpus Christi Islanders and UT Arlington Mavericks of the Southland Conference, and the UTRGV Vaqueros of the Western Athletic Conference.

Collegiate teams nationwide see Texas as an American football recruiting hotbed. In 2006, 170 players in the NFL came from Texas high schools.[3]

High school[edit]

Most primary and secondary school athletic, music, and academic contests in Texas involving public schools are organized and administered by the University Interscholastic League (UIL).[4] As a general rule, the UIL only governs public schools. Private schools are governed by other bodies, the largest of which is the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS). Both bodies have similar governing scope, although some terminology differs. The TAPPS category of "fine arts" encompasses what UIL calls "academic" and "music" competitions, and also includes competitions for spirit squads (i.e., cheerleading and dance teams), which UIL does not sponsor (other bodies govern cheer/dance competitions among public schools).


Sheryl Crow at Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Texans also enjoy going to the rodeo. The annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the world. The event begins with trail rides that originate from several points throughout the state, all of which convene at Reliant Park. The world's first rodeo was held in Pecos, Texas on 4 July 1883. The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth, Texas has a cowboy, and a Mexican and many traditional rodeos. The State Fair of Texas is held in Dallas, Texas each year at Fair Park.


Gymnastics in Texas is very popular and is one of the largest states for the sport in the country. Multiple Olympians and World Champions have come out of the state including; Nastia Liukin (2008 Olympic AA Champion), Carly Patterson (2004 Olympic AA Champion) and Simone Biles (2013, 2014 and 2015 World AA Champion and 2016 Olympic all around champion). Madison Kocian (2015 world uneven bars champion).

There are many gymnastics clubs in Texas but the top facilities include World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (Plano & Frisco), Texas Dreams Gymnastics (Coppell) and Metroplex Gymnastics (Allen).

The Women's U.S. National Gymnastics Training Center is located just outside Houston, in Huntsville, Texas. It is where Simone Biles trained for many years.[5]

Plano, Texas is considered the Gymnastics Capital of the World because of the gymnastics academy, WOGA.


Texas hosts five PGA Tour golf tournaments: WGC Match Play, Houston Open, Texas Open, Byron Nelson Classic, and Colonial National Invitational. Other professional tournaments in the state are the North Texas LPGA Shootout and the Insperity Invitational. Notable Texan golfers include Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Jordan Spieth, Lee Trevino, and Kathy Whitworth.


The state is home to motorsport venues such as the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, which hosts NASCAR and IndyCar races, and the Texas World Speedway in College Station. The Circuit of the Americas near Austin hosts the United States Grand Prix in Formula One and the Motorcycle Grand Prix of the Americas in MotoGP.

Texas Motorplex and Houston Raceway Park dragstrips host rounds of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Dallas and Houston have hosted street races, the Dallas Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Houston, as well as AMA Supercross Championship rounds.

Auto racing is also the second most watched sport on TV in the state,[citation needed] behind American football. NASCAR races tend to do well in Texas media markets than NBA games.[citation needed]

Other sports[edit]

Other popular sports in Texas include year-round fishing. Lacrosse, originally played by some of the indigenous tribes, is growing in popularity.

Stadiums and arenas[edit]

Stadium City Capacity Type Tenant Opened
Kyle Field College Station 102,512 Football Texas A&M Aggies 1927
Texas Memorial Stadium[6] Austin 100,119 Football Texas Longhorns 1924
Cotton Bowl Dallas 92,100 Football Red River Rivalry, State Fair Classic, Heart of Dallas Bowl 1930
AT&T Stadium Arlington 80,000 Football Dallas Cowboys, Cotton Bowl Classic 2009
NRG Stadium Houston 71,500 Football Houston Texans, Texas Bowl 2002
Rice Stadium Houston 47,000 Football Rice Owls 1950
Alamodome San Antonio 65,000 Football UTSA Roadrunners, Alamo Bowl,
U.S. Army All-American Bowl
Jones AT&T Stadium Lubbock 61,000 Football Texas Tech Red Raiders 1947
Sun Bowl Stadium El Paso 51,500 Football UTEP Miners and Sun Bowl 1963
Globe Life Park[7] Arlington 49,115 Baseball Texas Rangers 1994
McLane Stadium Waco 45,140 Football Baylor Bears 2014
Amon G. Carter Stadium Fort Worth 44,008 Football TCU Horned Frogs, Armed Forces Bowl 1930
Minute Maid Park[8] Houston 40,950 Baseball Houston Astros 2000
TDECU Stadium Houston 40,000 Football Houston Cougars 2014
Gerald J. Ford Stadium University Park 32,000 Football SMU Mustangs 2000
Apogee Stadium Denton 30,850 Football North Texas Mean Green 2011
Bobcat Stadium San Marcos 30,000 Football Texas State Bobcats 1981
BBVA Compass Stadium Houston 22,000 Soccer, football Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash, Texas Southern Tigers 2012
Toyota Stadium Frisco 20,500 Soccer, football FC Dallas, NCAA Division I Football Championship Game (FCS), high school football 2005
Mesquite Memorial Stadium Mesquite 20,000 Football High schools 1977
Kimbrough Memorial Stadium Canyon 20,000 Football West Texas A&M Buffaloes, high schools 1959
American Airlines Center Dallas 19,200 Arena Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars 2001
AT&T Center San Antonio 18,581 Arena San Antonio Spurs, San Antonio Stars,
San Antonio Rampage
Alamo Stadium San Antonio 18,500 Football High schools 1940
Farrington Field Fort Worth 18,500 Football High schools 1939
Toyota Center Houston 18,055 Arena Houston Rockets 2003
Eagle Stadium Allen 18,000 Football High schools 2012
Grande Communications Stadium Midland 18,000 Football, soccer High schools, Midland-Odessa FC 2002
Ratliff Stadium Odessa 17,500 Football High schools, UT–Permian Basin Falcons 1982
Frank Erwin Center Austin 16,734 Arena Texas Longhorns 1977
Stallworth Stadium Baytown 16,500 Football High schools 1969
Provost Umphrey Stadium Beaumont 16,000 Football Lamar Cardinals 1964
United Supermarkets Arena Lubbock 15,098 Arena Texas Tech Red Raiders and Lady Raiders 1999
Shotwell Stadium Abilene 15,075 Football High schools, Abilene Christian Wildcats (1959–2016) 1959
Panther Stadium at Blackshear Field Prairie View 15,000 Football Prairie View A&M Panthers 2016
Homer Bryce Stadium Nacogdoches 14,575 Football Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 1973
Reed Arena College Station 12,989 Arena Texas A&M Aggies 1998
Bowers Stadium Huntsville 12,593 Football Sam Houston State Bearkats 1986
Don Haskins Center El Paso 12,222 Arena UTEP Miners 1977
Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium Abilene 12,000 Football Abilene Christian Wildcats 2017
The Ford Center at The Star Frisco 12,000 Football Dallas Cowboys practice facility, high schools 2017
Legacy Stadium Katy 12,000 Football High schools 2017
Dr Pepper Ballpark Frisco 10,600 Baseball Frisco RoughRiders 2003
Ferrell Center Waco 10,284 Arena Baylor Bears and Lady Bears 1988
Montagne Center Beaumont 10,080 Arena Lamar Cardinals and Lady Cardinals 1984
UNT Coliseum Denton 9,797 Arena North Texas Mean Green 1973
Wolff Stadium San Antonio 9,500 Baseball San Antonio Missions 1994
Ford Arena Beaumont 9,100 Arena Oxford City FC of Texas 2003
Dell Diamond Round Rock 8,688 Baseball Round Rock Express 2000
Schollmaier Arena Fort Worth 8,500 Arena TCU Horned Frogs 1961
Toyota Field San Antonio 8,296 Soccer San Antonio FC 2013
Health and Physical Education Arena Houston 8,100 Arena Texas Southern Tigers 1969
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park Cedar Park 8,000 Arena Austin Spurs, Texas Stars 2009
Kay Yeager Coliseum Wichita Falls 7,380 Arena Wichita Falls Nighthawks 2003
William R. Johnson Coliseum Nacogdoches 7,203 Arena Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks and Ladyjacks 1974
Strahan Coliseum San Marcos 7,200 Arena Texas State Bobcats 1982
Allen Event Center Allen 7,080 Arena Allen Americans, Dallas Sidekicks 2009
College Park Center Arlington 7,000 Arena UT Arlington Mavericks, Dallas Wings 2012


  1. ^ Fort Worth Driving Club Records: A Guide, University of Texas at Arlington, accessed March 29, 2008
  2. ^ Davis, Brian (2005-10-07). "UT-OU : Best Rivalry?". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  3. ^ Talman, John (2006-03-15). "Lone Star Competition". .
  4. ^ "University Interscholastic League". University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Official website of University of Texas Athletics – Texas Longhorns – Facilities". Retrieved 2013-05-12. 
  7. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-05-12. 
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-05-12. 

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