NRG Stadium, formerly known as the Reliant Stadium, is a multi-purpose stadium situated in Houston, Texas. It has a seating capacity of 72,220, and it costs around $352 million to construct. Since its opening in 2002, the NRG Stadium became the home of the Texas Bowl, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston Texans, and several the United States men’s national soccer team matches. The NRG Stadium also became the host facility for the WrestleMania VV and the Super Bowls XXXVIII and LI. In this article, we are going to learn more about NRG Stadium.
In 1997, the Houston NFL Holdings group partnered with Populous, a global architectural and design firm specializing in stadiums, sports facilities, and arenas, to build a plan for the first-ever NFL retractable roof football stadium. Their main goal was to create a football stadium that will replace the Astrodome. Still, at the same time, it would operate just like an open-air facility that offers the comfort and intimacy of an indoor arena.
The stadium’s groundbreaking was held on March 9, 2000, and it was completed in October 2001. In August 2002, the stadium opened with a pre-season game between the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins, where the Dolphins won 24-3. In September that same year, the stadium hosted its first NFL football game between the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys. In February 2003, the first rodeo was held in the stadium.
Back then, the stadium was named Reliant Stadium; however, in March 2014, the stadium was renamed NRG Stadium after NRG Energy, the parent company of Reliant Energy. In 2015, a permanent artificial surface was installed in the stadium. After that, artificial turfs were also installed to be used during college and high school games while keeping the grass for Texans games.
After the NRG Stadium hosted the Super Bowl LI, it went under further upgrades so that it will be in its competitive shape with other new NFL venues.
Major Sporting Events in the NRG Stadium
- Football – The Houston Texans called the NRG Stadium their home since it opened in 2002. The stadium also hosted 2 Super Bowls, namely the Super Bowl XXXVIII, where the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers. And the Super Bowl Ll, where the Atlanta Falcons lost to the England Patriots in a game which is considered to be the first-ever overtime game in Super Bowl History.
- Rodeo – Aside from football facilities, the NRG Stadium is also equipped with a service area level to host rodeo livestock. In the north end part of the stadium, just under the lower bowl, they have a place where they house the broncs, bulls, roping calves, and steers. During performances, there are rolling doors in the stadium that separate the loading and unloading dock into two receiving areas to isolate the food and concession deliveries from the livestock delivers and rodeo equipment.
- College Football – Aside from professional football, the NRG Stadium also hosts college football’s Texas Kickoff and Texas Bowl. The first-ever edition of the Texas Bowl was held here, and it featured a game between the Kansas State University and Rutgers University. And since 2010, the NRG Stadium hosts the Battle of the Piney Woods, which is considered the oldest football rival in Texas. In 2017, the NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision announced that the NRG Stadium would be the future site for the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
- Soccer – Apart from football and rodeo, the NRG Stadium also hosts international soccer games. These games are usually held every spring and summer, just before the NFL season starts.
- Motorsports – For over fifteen years, the NRG Stadium is the host to Monster Jam and the AMA Supercross Championship.
- Concerts – The NRG Stadium is not just for sporting events but also used as a regular concert venue. Prominent artists such as Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, The Rolling Stones, and Taylor Swift have performed in the stadium.