Itinerant Fan

DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium

Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

The city of Austin, Texas, has established itself as a fine place to visit for a great many reasons. Let us count the ways: The annual South by Southwest and Austin City Limits festivals, incredible live music and nightlife, world-renowned barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine, a flourishing tech scene and the seat of government in Texas. But the largest gatherings in town happen at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, home of the Texas Longhorns football team.

From a sports perspective, Austin is absolutely a college town. The University of Texas (officially, the University of Texas at Austin) dominates the conversation, and to say that the Longhorns’ steer-head silhouette logo and burnt orange color are visible just about everywhere you look in the city is only a slight exaggeration.

On fall Saturdays when the Longhorns’ football team is at home, the center of focus in the city is the on-campus stadium named after the program’s legendary former coach, which is capable of hosting more than 100,000 patrons (with a planned expansion promising to boost the capacity even more).

A game-day visit shows that the environment measures up as one of the great live experiences in college football, as we experienced for ourselves on a Saturday in September.


The ambiance: Getting to DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium

The UT-Austin campus is situated just a couple miles north of downtown Austin, and DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium itself is visible from Interstate 35 running nearby. Which is to say the stadium is pretty easy to find.

If you’re a visitor staying in a downtown hotel, getting there can be as simple as walking — that is, if you don’t mind a little bit of a stroll. It will take you at least half an hour depending on your pace, but at least there’s plenty to see if you’re heading there via San Jacinto Boulevard, which leads directly to the stadium. You’ll pass by the Texas State Capitol, at which point you’ll begin to see more and more parking lots and structures and more tailgate parties taking place within.

Austin’s light-rail system, known as Capital Metro Rail, travels north through the city from its downtown starting point near the Austin Convention Center, but it surprisingly does not pass by the UT campus. The closest station is located about a mile to the east on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; on gamedays, Capital Metro offers bus service from this  station to the stadium. You can find more information on this service at this link.

The university also runs a “Longhorns Express” shuttle from two pickup points around the city at a roundtrip fare of $10.

Parking in lots and structures close to the stadium are largely permit-only; however, there are a handful of cash lots available at an entry fee of $30. Follow this link for a parking map and information; advance-purchase parking permits are also available.

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The build-up: Things to do around DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium

If you aren’t part of a tailgate party, you can head to the portion of San Jacinto Boulevard that runs by the stadium — it gets closed off to vehicle traffic and is rechristened “Bevo Boulevard” for pregame activities that include live music, food carts and games. It’s also here, at the intersection of San Jacinto and DeLoss Dodds Way at the northwest corner of the stadium, that you can see the Longhorns team make its entrance.

Otherwise, if you’d rather visit an establishment for pregame dining or drinking, there are a handful of spots surrounding the campus. Scholz Garden on San Jacinto, a few blocks south of the stadium, is convenient proximity-wise but not surprisingly jammed with football fans as kickoff approaches. Haymaker is one of several popular bars on Manor Road, on the other side of I-35 from the campus.

If you’re a visitor to Austin and are looking for more variety, try staying in the downtown area and surveying the always-lively Sixth Street, the center of the city’s nightlife scene, for a place to stop in (if not before the game, definitely consider checking out the scene afterward).

And if you’re an early riser, don’t mind sitting in a long line and the kickoff you’re attending isn’t until late afternoon or the evening, consider making a stop at Franklin Barbecue, perhaps the city’s most revered of its many, many BBQ establishments. It’s on 11th Street just east of I-35, about equidistant from downtown and the UT campus.

DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium Longhorns

The ambiance: Watching a game at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium

For a venue that seats 100,000-plus, DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium doesn’t appear imposingly big — from the outside or the inside. In fact, the game in which we visited set the stadium attendance record, but the stadium still gives off a slightly more intimate feel than that. Perhaps it’s because the vast majority of the seating consists of aluminum benches, thus allowing fans to pack more tightly in than other stadiums.

The forthcoming expansion of the stadium is set to increase the capacity even further by creating a new seating area on the venue’s south end, completely enclosing the bowl. This will result in more high-end seating options and a larger videoboard.

For now, the south end is where the Texas band and student section can be found, and where the team’s steer mascot, Bevo, takes up “residence.” Fans of visiting teams tend to sit in the upper levels at the northeast corner of the stadium — specifically, sections 120-124.

Still, sight lines are great in all but the uppermost rows, and if you’re sitting at the north end of the stadium, you have the benefit of seeing Austin’s ever-growing skyline in the distance. It remains to be seen how the stadium expansion will affect that, though.

The stadium’s food selection is wide and varied, ranging from familiar chains such as Chick-fil-A, Quizno’s and Krispy Kreme to local favorites in Salt Lick BBQ and Torchy’s Tacos. There’s also a beer garden (something you don’t necessarily see a lot of at college football stadiums) and a stand dedicated to state fair food (though Texas’ state fairgrounds are in Dallas).

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    The Particulars

    Home Teams
    Texas Longhorns

    Address
    405 East 23rd Street
    Austin, Texas 78712

    Year Opened
    1924

    Capacity
    100,119

    Upcoming Events
    All times local
    South Florida Bulls at Texas Longhorns Football
    Saturday, September 5, 2020
    12:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    UTEP Miners at Texas Longhorns Football
    Saturday, September 19, 2020
    12:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    West Virginia Mountaineers at Texas Longhorns Football
    Saturday, October 17, 2020
    12:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    Baylor Bears at Texas Longhorns Football
    Saturday, October 31, 2020
    12:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    TCU Horned Frogs at Texas Longhorns Football
    Saturday, November 14, 2020
    12:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »


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