COLUMBIA — Reliant Stadium opened in Houston in 2002 and is about a two-hour drive from Sean Weatherspoon’s hometown of Jasper, Texas
The stadium is the home of the NFL's Houston Texans and over the years has hosted a variety of events including U.S. national soccer matches. The 2005 Big 12 Conference football championship game was held there. It’s the first NFL stadium with a retractable roof.
The Mizzou Athletic Ticket Office will begin taking online orders for the Texas Bowl beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday at www.mutigers.com. Fans may also order over the phone by calling 1-800-CAT-PAWS (884-PAWS in Columbia) or in person at the Mizzou Arena Ticket Office beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, but are strongly encouraged to order online to ensure prompt service. Mizzou's tickets are priced from a range of $25 to $75.
The Mizzou Alumni Association will host the Official Mizzou Texas Bowl Tour Dec. 30 - Jan. 1. Full air/land and land-only packages are available to Houston. To join the Official Mizzou Texas Bowl Tour visit www.MizzouSportsTravel.com or call 888-MIZZOU-1 (649-9681). The association will plan bowl events for Tigers fans including a pregame tailgate.
But Weatherspoon has never been there.
“I heard it’s an amazing stadium,” he said. “They hosted the Super Bowl a few years ago, I think the Patriots and the Panthers played there. And it’s a big-time stage.”
Weatherspoon will make his first visit to Reliant Stadium in the next few weeks. Missouri accepted an invitation Sunday to the Texas Bowl, a game held at the stadium on Dec. 31. The Tigers will play Navy.
“We get to go inside an NFL locker room, and kind of see what goes on in there,” he said. “It’ll be a great opportunity to go down to Houston, a major city.”
The game’s proximity to Jasper has kept Weatherspoon’s phone ringing.
“We get to play on ESPN, I get to go back home,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of people calling me right now for tickets. I’ll probably have over 20 or 30 people at the game so I’m excited.”
Jaron Baston has listened to various teammates from Texas talk about which Texas city they prefer. Baston, from Blue Springs, has never been to Texas except on team trips, so he’s yet to see Houston.
“I’m on a team with half the team is from Texas,” he said. “So some say Dallas is and some say Houston is (the best city in Texas). I watch on TV, they’re always having the all-star games in Houston and everything. So it’s going to be fun, just to see a big city. I’m from Kansas City. It’s big, but nothing compared to cities in Texas.”
He’s curious to see what his teammates were talking about.
“Every time, it’s a new experience for me,” Baston said of going to Texas. “And they say Houston is the best city, so I’m happy.”
The Texas Bowl has the last choice among Big 12 bowls, choosing immediately after the Independence Bowl. Missouri is the second Big 12 team to play in the game. Kansas State lost to Rutgers in 2006. Rice beat Western Michigan in the game last season.
The Texas Bowl began in 2006. The Houston Bowl, started in 2000, was played in Reliant Stadium from 2002 to 2005. The first bowl held in Houston was the Bluebonnet Bowl, held at Rice Stadium and then the Astrodome. It began in 1959 and played its last game in 1987.
The first three Texas Bowls were televised on the NFL Network, but this season’s game will be on ESPN, meaning it will be available to a much larger percentage of American households.
Weatherspoon said he didn’t know much about the Texas Bowl until recently other than watching the previous games on television. He became more aware of it once media reports indicated it might be Missouri’s destination.
“I kind of realized then that it’s bowl season, and all kinds of things can happen,” he said. “I kind of figured we’d be going to the Texas Bowl at that point. I’m excited though.”