It is still (begrudgingly) the offseason, and in the offseason we like to rank things. And what better thing to rank than college football stadiums? The Lone Star State undoubtedly has some of the largest and grandest stadiums in the country, but I didn’t want to just feature the big boys. Since everything is bigger in Texas, I wanted to see EVERY collegiate stadium our beloved state has to offer. So here is your definitive ranking of all 32 college football stadiums in Texas.
First, a bit of housekeeping: To qualify, the stadium has to be owned by the school. You don’t get to boast about your facility’s grandness if you’re just one of several tenants. For that reason you won’t see the following schools on this list: UTSA (Alamodome), Texas Southern (BBVA Compass Stadium), UT-Perman Basin, Midwestern Sate, Howard Payne, Southwestern, Southwestern Assemblies of God, Texas College, Texas Wesleyan, Wayland Baptist, Blinn College, Trinity Valley Community College, Tyler Junior College, Cisco College and Navarro College (who all play at high school stadiums).
Regarding my criteria for the rankings, it’s not all about size. You can make up for a lower capacity if the venue has history, character, modern amenities, is on-campus, or just looks like a cool place to watch a game. Mostly, it’s just my eyeball test, so feel free to disagree with me in the comments. But with that out of the way, on with the list (presented in non-slideshow format because I care about you).
Honorable Mention: Cotton Bowl
Since the Cotton Bowl isn’t the full-time home a college team, it didn’t technically qualify for this list, but you can’t mention college stadiums in Texas without it. It was the namesake of one of the oldest bowl games in the country, and continues to host landmark rivalries like Texas/OU and Grambling/Prairie View A&M. It has also served as the home of the SMU Mustangs, both in the 1930s/40s, and again for a brief period in the 1990s. A historic venue set in the middle of the Texas State Fair, let’s hope the Cotton Bowl is viable for generations to come.
32. Wilford Moore Stadium (McMurry University)
Someone has to be last, and it’s you, McMurry. While the elevator tower gives a bit of personality, ultimately this is just metal bleachers with a small press box on top. That said, the fact that it’s seemingly in the middle of a neighborhood does give it a bit of charm.
31. Apple Stadium (Austin College)
The modern press box and the natural grass playing surface give Austin College’s Apple Stadium a leg up on those ranked below it.
30. Bulldog Stadium (Texas Lutheran University)
It’s the smallest stadium on our list, but the fans sitting on the grass berms in each endzone grant it some style points.
29. Jackson Field (Sul Ross State University)
More metal bleachers, but no track and a pretty great turf design give this stadium a distinctive feel.
28. Trinity University Stadium (Trinity University)
It was surprisingly difficult just to find a photo of this stadium. But maybe for good reason. Trinity is a fine school, but they need (and are attempting to make) some upgrades to their football facility. Even though it gets points for being on campus, it gets the last spot on our list.
EDIT: Trinity has installed turf and is in the process of building a new home side grandstand/press box. As such they were moved from last to #28 as of Aug. 25, 2020.
27. Shelton Stadium (Hardin-Simmons University)
An on-campus setting and interesting field pattern, but otherwise unremarkable.
26. Husky Stadium (Houston Baptist University)
It’s the largest stadium so far on our list, and also the first to introduce chairback seats into the mix.
25. R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium (Kilgore College)
The only junior college on this list. And they barely made it in since the stadium was originally built by the Kilgore ISD before half of it was deeded to the college in the late 1940s. It’s major selling point is the lack of a track, putting fans much closer to the field. A decent little stadium to watch the Rangerettes, and maybe a bit of football while you’re there.
24. Javelina Stadium (Texas A&M-Kingsville)
By far the biggest stadium on the list so far, but not overflowing with personality. The palm trees in the endzones are a nice touch though.
23. Memorial Stadium (Texas A&M-Commerce)
That lion logo tho...
22. Ornelas Stadium (East Texas Baptist University)
While this stadium is on the smaller side, I’m a sucker for a good grass berm. This one even has the team running down the hill into the stadium a la Clemson.
21. Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium (University of the Incarnate Word)
The structure itself isn’t all that special, but the on-campus setting is exceptionally collegiate.
20. LeGrand Stadium (Angelo State University)
Brick and mortar press box, concrete grandstands, nice. That yellow track is really something too.
19. Provost Umphrey Stadium (Lamar University)
Not too bad for a billboard company.
18. Elliott T. Bowers Stadium (Sam Houston State University)
Love the grass berm. Hate the ‘80s-modern press box.
17. Homer Bryce Stadium (Stephen F. Austin University)
Among several stadiums set into grass berms, SFA’s may be the bermiest of them all.
16. Rice Stadium (Rice University)
Rice Stadium is the poster boy for “size isn’t everything.” Amazingly, the stadium hosted Super Bowl VIII (when it held 70,000), but it’s been mostly downhill from there. While an endzone complex added a couple of years ago created better facilities for the team, the rest of the stadium sits basically unchanged from what it looked like 50 years ago, and nostalgia only gets you so far.
15. Memorial Stadium (Tarleton State University)
Tarleton’s stadium recently underwent a nearly $25 million expansion/renovation (completed in 2019), and it shows. The two-tiered stand and new press box make even a smaller stadium feel big time.
14. Buffalo Stadium (West Texas A&M University)
West Texas A&M left 60-year old Kimbrough Memorial Stadium and opened up this brand new gem in 2019. While they went from a capacity of 20,000 to only 8,500, the new stadium has improved restrooms and concourses, chairback seats, a video board and even a handful of luxury suites. It looks like a fun, intimate atmosphere for a college football Saturday.
13. Crusader Stadium (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor)
Every seat in this stadium is close to the action, and the fact that it sits right up against the school’s Student Union makes an even cozier feel, and a unique aspect among stadiums in Texas.
12. Wildcat Stadium (Abilene Christian University)
A video board, a club level, suites. Who do they think they are, Allen High School?
11. Panther Stadium (Prairie View A&M University)
This sparkling gem opened in 2016, replacing the very outdated metal grandstands of Blackshear Field and more than doubling the original capacity of 6,000. Once again, being right up against another building (this time the Athletics complex) created intimacy, and I’m a sucker for spelling things out in the seats (PVAMU, in this case). A truly worthy venue for a world-class
football team marching band.
10. Bobcat Stadium (Texas State University
The highest compliment you can give Bobcat Stadium is that it served as a stand-in for Kyle Field in an episode of “Friday Night Lights” (with the help of some special effects). Also how much does it bother everyone’s OCD tendencies that they didn’t find a way to lower the capacity by eight?
9. Apogee Stadium (University of North Texas)
Apogee has the one thing that it’s predecessor lacked, and that’s personality. The angular look, particular in the endzone, is instantly recognizable, and that alone has significant value.
8. Jones AT&T Stadium (Texas Tech University)
Red Raider fans will likely be upset to see their beloved home ranked this low. But compared to many of the stadiums ranked above it, it simply lacks personality. Yes, it does have exterior architecture that makes it blend well with the Tech campus, and the retro double T scoreboard is fun. But the traditional single tier stands put fans at the top very far away from the action.
7. TDECU Stadium (University of Houston)
The successor to Robertson Stadium has a lot going for it. It’s on campus, has the modern amenities you want in a stadium, and even has a break in the upper decks that allows for a view of the Houston skyline.
6. Gerald J. Ford Stadium (Southern Methodist University)
Few college campuses in Texas are as picturesque as SMU’s, and Ford Stadium does a great job of blending seamlessly with it’s surroundings. It has a relatively low profile from the exterior, so it doesn’t dominate the landscape like some stadiums, but the brick exterior and red and blue seating bowl feel perfectly SMU. Now if only they could fill it every once in a while.
5. Amon G. Carter Stadium (Texas Christian University)
TCU has put a lot of work into their stadium in recent years, and it shows, going from this to this. Even with a relatively small capacity, the stands seem to tower over the field, making for an imposing first impression, with all of the modern bells and whistles to boot.
4. Sun Bowl (UT-El Paso)
The Sun Bowl isn’t the largest stadium on the list, and it doesn’t have many of the modern amenities of some of its counterparts at the top of this list, but it’s built into the mountains in El Paso, and is also home to the second-oldest bowl game in the country. It’s a part of the history of college football in Texas and deserves your respect.
3. Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium (University of Texas)
DKR is a fine stadium. It’s pleasing architecturally, and the massive two tiers on the home side give it a distinctive look. People are going to assume that putting it third is some kind of dig, but there’s nothing wrong with this stadium. Well, at least there wasn’t. Their newest expansion, still underway, takes this stadium down a notch aesthetically for me. It just doesn’t seem to mesh with the rest of the stadium, sticking out like a sore thumb. Oh and also the players will now run out of a uterus when they take the field.
2. McLane Stadium (Baylor University)
Baylor left the much-maligned Floyd Casey Stadium for the brand new McLane Stadium in 2014, and man did they do this right. They went from a stadium set miles away from campus surrounded by dirt parking lots to a pristine, horse-shoe shaped stadium with views of the Brazos river as well as the Baylor campus (and its many steeples). There are bigger stadiums, there are better stadiums architecturally, but as far as pure setting, McLane has everyone else beat by a mile.
1. Kyle Field (Texas A&M University)
Capacity: 102, 733
C’mon, you knew this was coming. Kyle Field was already one of the top stadiums in Texas when it was nothing more than a giant concrete tackle box. But throw in a nearly half-billion dollar expansion/renovation, and this thing is the king of college football facilities in the lone star state. It’s the largest football stadium in Texas (as well as the largest in the SEC), and following the renovation, also the swankiest, with a bevy of luxury suites, the massive Hall of Champions event space, multiple club levels, and a huge upgrade on the exterior, with red brick replacing the monolithic communist block architecture. Add in the largest student section in the country, and this place is virtually unmatched on college football Saturdays, as self-serving as that sounds.