This year marks the Dallas Cowboys’ third consecutive year as the world’s most valuable sports entity. As reported by Forbes, “America’s Team,” valued at $4.8 billion, boasts the highest revenue ($840 million) and EBITDA ($350 million) of any franchise. The action takes place at $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium, or “Jerry’s World” after high-profile owner Jerry Jones. Named “a gold-plated ATM” by Forbes, the world’s largest domed structure also generates massive revenue via tours and non-football events.
Offering a consummate Texas experience for groups, the venue anchors Arlington’s powerhouse sports market. Construction is underway on Globe Life Field, the Texas Rangers’ new $1.1 billion retractable-roof ballpark. Slated for March 2020, the 40,000-seat venue will be able to flexibly host every recognized sport besides cricket, along with concerts and other events.
Completing the triad is the forthcoming Esports Stadium Arlington. Announced in March 2018, the City of Arlington, Esports Venues LLC and architecture firm Populous are investing some $10 million in transforming the 100,000-square-foot Arlington Convention Center into the nation’s largest esports stadium.
“Arlington is excited to be on the leading edge of this global growth in esports events, which we expect will be a major part of our sports event business into the future,” said Jon Hixon, vice president of sales for the Arlington CVB. “This unique venue will also actively host traditional meetings and conventions on non-esports days.”
Sports are serious business in Texas—and for groups, serious fun.
With five professional teams and four major venues collectively accommodating 150,000-plus fans, Houston is another leading sports destination offering abundant gameday, behind-the-scenes tours, private events and teambuilding opportunities for groups.
Blockbuster venues include NRG Park, home of the NFL’s Houston Texans and annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; Minute Maid Stadium, steps from the George R. Brown Convention Center and home of 2017 World Series champions the Houston Astros; and multipurpose Toyota Center, home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
Opened in 1965 as the world’s first multipurpose, domed sports stadium, the Astrodome was celebrated as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Shuttered after a storied legacy that includes the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, the birthplace of AstroTurf is being reborn as a multipurpose event center. The $105 million project is slated to start October 2018 for anticipated completion by 2020.
San Antonio’s Alamodome (1993) has its own impressive track record, including five NCAA Final Fours (number six in 2025), FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the NBA All-Star Game. Following a $60 million renovation unveiled in August 2017, the 64,000-seat domed stadium is primed for even bigger action. Upgrades include the new H-E-B Plaza, offering 37,000 square feet of event space; 26,000 square feet of expanded concourse area with beer gardens and F&B concepts; and new high-tech video walls. Starting in 2019, year-round programming will include home games of the Alliance San Antonio, Texas’ entry in the inaugural season of the Alliance of American Football.
Other powerhouses include Austin’s 80,000-seat Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium, home of University of Texas Longhorn football; Texas A&M’s historic 102,733-seat Kyle Field in College Station, fourth-largest U.S. stadium by capacity; the 92,100-seat Cotton Bowl, a Dallas treasure from 1930; and the 20,000-seat American Airlines Center, home of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and NHL’s Dallas Stars.
Dallas and Houston are among the U.S. cities seeking hosting rights for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, awarded to the U.S., Canada and Mexico in a first-ever three-nation bid.
In the meantime, Texas is a big score for soccer fans. Home of Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas, Frisco’s flexible 20,500-seat Toyota Stadium regularly hosts championship events, international competitions, concerts and more. The stadium is part of a 145-acre multipurpose sports and entertainment facility that includes the Toyota Soccer Center, with 17 regulation-size soccer fields and, slated for October 2018, the new National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Sporting the most professional teams of any U.S. city, Frisco also has The Star, world headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys with venues that include the 12,000-seat Ford Center and 300-room Omni Frisco Hotel. Group-capable Dr Pepper Ballpark is home of Minor League Baseball’s Frisco RoughRiders.
San Antonio FC of the United Soccer League (USL) plays at 8,400-seat Toyota Field, while the MLS’ Houston Dynamo calls 22,000-plus seat BBVA Compass Stadium home. Designed to international standards, this multipurpose stadium also serves the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League and Texas Southern football.
Named a “Top Soccer City” by Livability.com, Plano routinely hosts 250-team soccer tournaments and is headquarters of the 850-team Labor Day Invitational hosted by the Plano Youth Soccer Association.
In 2019, Amarillo will welcome FC Amarillo of the U.S. Arena Soccer League, and the return of Minor League Baseball when an unnamed new affiliate inaugurates the new stadium that is currently being constructed across from the Embassy Suites headquarters hotel.
El Paso groups can experience Minor League Chihuahuas baseball, and debuting in 2019, El Paso USL soccer at event-capable Southwest University Park.
Whether gearing up or slowing down, Texas has an activity for every speed.
Beaumont’s Ford Park opens its Ford Fields—12 baseball/softball fields—to groups, as well as its two open-air barns, an 11,000-square-foot lobby, and the Ford Arena and Ford Exhibit Hall, which combine for 83,000 square feet of space.
On Galveston Island, 75-acre East Beach Park offers 20 permanent beach volleyball setups. Meanwhile in Irving, local operators including Gondola Adventures, Stand Up Paddle North Texas and Aqua-Cycle Water Trikes offer water-based rentals, activities and excursions on the Mandalay Canal and Lake Carolyn.
Some 400 competitive swimmers attended the April 2018 opening of a new $15.5 million, 36,000-square-foot natatorium with 50-meter Olympic-size pool on El Paso’s West Side.
Featuring one of only three indoor track facilities in Texas, Lubbock’s new multifaceted Sports Performance Center at Texas Tech University has already booked the Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championship for 2019, 2021 and 2023. Also, The Woodlands hosts several marathons and triathlons each year, including the IRONMAN North American Championship in April.
Formula One and other races draw groups to Austin’s multipurpose Circuit of the America’s track, and to Fort Worth’s massive Texas Motor Speedway.
Only in Texas can golfing groups play courses sanctioned by major league football and baseball. In Grapevine, Cowboys Golf Club is the world’s only NFL-themed facility, offering 18-hole, par-72 championship golf and facilities for corporate tournaments, executive meetings and special events. Targeting a late summer 2018 opening, the Texas Rangers Golf Club, a collaboration with Arlington Golf, features a 7,000-yard course and a luxury clubhouse scheduled for spring 2019.
At the Four Seasons Resort and Club Las Colinas, the signature 18-hole, par-70 Tournament Players Course (TPC) is also a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Offering 267,823 square feet of total space, the 1,102-room JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, which just completed significant design upgrades to its restaurants and public spaces, offers two TPC courses: AT&T Canyons and AT&T Oaks.
Group favorite Topgolf’s ongoing national expansion includes El Paso. Opened in February 2018, the facility includes 100-plus climate-controlled hitting bays, private event spaces, and a full-service restaurant and bars.
One of Golf Digest’s “Top 75 Best Golf Resorts in America,” the 406-room The Woodlands Resort, with two courses and on-site destination management company, recently underwent a $77 million renovation