Rice Stadium
Rice Stadium from the north in 2009,
before construction of the Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center
Houston is located in the United States
Location in the United States
Houston is located in Texas
Location in Texas
Former namesHouston Stadium
Location6100 South Main Street
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Coordinates29°42′59″N 95°24′33″W / 29.71639°N 95.40917°W / 29.71639; -95.40917
OwnerRice University
OperatorRice University
(expandable to 59,000)[1]
Super Bowl VIII (68,142)[2]
SurfaceNatural grass (1950–1969)
AstroTurf (1970–2005)
FieldTurf (2006–2014)
AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D60H (2014–present)
Broke groundFebruary 1950
OpenedSeptember 30, 1950 (1950-09-30)
Construction cost$3.295 million
($41.7 million in 2023 dollars[3])
ArchitectHermon Lloyd & W.B. Morgan and Milton McGinty [4]
Structural engineerWalter P Moore[5]
General contractorBrown & Root Constructors
Rice Owls (NCAA) (1950–present)
Houston Cougars (NCAA) (1951–1964)
Texas Southern Tigers (NCAA) (1971–2000)
Bluebonnet Bowl (1959–1967, 1985, 1986)
Houston Oilers (AFL) (1965–1967)
Houston Roughnecks (UFL) (2024–present)

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,[6] and hosted John F. Kennedy's "We choose to go to the Moon" speech in 1962 and Super Bowl VIII in early 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.[7]

In 2006, Rice University upgraded the facility by switching from AstroTurf to FieldTurf and adding a modern scoreboard above the north concourse.[8] 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 NRG 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.


Rice Stadium replaced Rice Field (now Wendel D. Ley Track and Holloway Field), which had a total capacity of less than 37,000, in 1950.[9] 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 Cougars played at Rice Stadium from 1951 through 1964, and the former Bluebonnet Bowl was played there from 1959 to 1967, and in 1985 and 1986. The Houston Oilers of the American Football League (AFL) played in the stadium for three seasons (19651967), then moved to the Astrodome in 1968.

In January 1974, the venue hosted Super Bowl VIII, the first played in Texas, in which the defending champion Miami Dolphins defeated the Minnesota Vikings 24–7 with 68,142 in attendance.[2] The game returned to Houston thirty years later in February 2004, for Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium.

John F. Kennedy speech

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

Main article: We choose to go to the Moon

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.[10] In the Wednesday afternoon 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. 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 ten meetings and tied 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 (which did occur in 1969): Since 1963, Rice has gone just 2–43 (.044) against Texas, including 28 straight losses between 1966 and 1993 and twenty straight from 1995 to the present.[11]

Monsters of Rock Tour 1988

On July 2, 1988, Rice Stadium hosted a stop on the Monsters of Rock tour. The tour was headlined by Van Halen and also featured Metallica, Scorpions, Dokken, and Kingdom Come. This was also the Texas World Music Festival.

Year by year

Season Head Coach Conference Avg. Crowd Home Record
2017 David Bailiff Conference USA 19,354 0-5
2018 Mike Bloomgren 20,172 2-4
2019 18,845 1-5
2020 1,000 0-2
2021 18,613 3-3
2022 19,011 4-2
2023 American Athletic Conference 20,542 4-3
2024 - 0-0

Capacity reduction

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 while Rice was still a national power. It was reasonable to expect 70,000 fans to attend a college football game there. However, as Rice declined on the field from the 1960s onward, the Owls found it increasingly difficult to fill the stadium. Even crowds of 30,000 were swallowed up in the environment.

In 2006, the end zone seats were covered with tarps, reducing the regular seating capacity to 47,000. The northern end zone was later demolished. As of 2023, school continues exploring options for a modern seating arrangement with a reduced capacity.[12]


Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center

By late October, 2015, a steel skeleton had been erected for the Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center.
The Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center under construction on Oct. 23, 2015, as seen from the press box.

Around July 2015, construction began on the Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center. This building makes up the north end of the stadium, and contain a weight room, a home team locker room, coaching and staff offices. This replaced the north end seating that consisted of crude concrete steps and was unused. The building was named for donor and former Rice University football player and alumnus Brian Patterson.[13]

Rice Stadium, Press Box Side 2016
Rice Stadium 2016

Robert L. Waltrip Training Center

On May 9, 2019, the Rice University Board of Trustees approved a proposal for an air-supported multipurpose facility on the west side of Rice Stadium that will offer climate-protected space for varsity athletics training, campus recreation and Rice student events, activities and community partner events. The 80,000 square foot inflatable structure rose up from the infield area of the bike track west of Rice Stadium for the first time in late July 2020, creating a facility to house practices, intramurals and other events when weather put those events in peril.

See also


  1. ^ "Rice Stadium". Retrieved March 30, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Machine-like Dolphins repeat". Eugene Register-Guard. (regon). Associated Press. January 14, 1974. p. 3B.
  3. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  4. ^ "AIA 50 Year Award: Rice Stadium". Archived from the original on April 12, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  5. ^ "First Major Sports Facility". Walter P Moore. March 22, 2016. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  6. ^ "Rice Stadium -- home of the Bluebonnet Bowl". Lawrence Daily Journal-World. (Kansas). (photo). December 1, 1961. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Rice Stadium a remarkable gridiron arena of ingenuity - Houston Business Journal". Archived from the original on February 22, 2014.
  8. ^ "Rice Stadium Renovations". Rice University Athletics. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  9. ^ "Old Rice Field". Retrieved December 26, 2007.
  10. ^ "JFK urges U.S. to take lead in space". Victoria Advocate. (Texas). Associated Press. September 13, 1962. p. 1.
  11. ^ "Winsipedia - Texas Longhorns vs. Rice Owls football series history games list". Winsipedia. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  12. ^ France, Chandler (July 5, 2023). "As Rice Stadium undergoes minor renovations, university still eyes capacity-reduction project". Houston Business Journal.
  13. ^ "Rice Owls". Rice Owls.
Events and tenants
Preceded by

first stadium
Home of the
Bluebonnet Bowl

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

1965 – 1967
Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of Super Bowl VIII
Succeeded by