This year will be the third year Houston has hosted a Super Bowl.
The city last hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in 2004 when the New England Patriots defeated the Panthers by the score of 32–29.
In 1974, Super Bowl VIII was played Rice Stadium on the campus of Rice University.
Today, 43 years later, Rice Stadium sits largely unchanged.
“I think the cool thing about Super Bowl XIII here is the stadium is very similar to how it was then,” Ryan Bucher, Rice University Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Events, said. “You get a sense for what people would’ve felt like.”
Super Bowl XIII was held on a dreary, overcast day.
Rice Stadium provided the setting for the Dolphins’ then-unprecedented third straight Super Bowl appearance and second straight win: A 24-7 blowout of the Minnesota Vikings.
“It was packed, I’ve seen pictures of it,” Bucher continued. “We had extra bleachers filling every nook and cranny with people.”
The stadium was built in 1950, predating Houston’s most iconic sports venue, the Astrodome, by 15 years.
Aside from upgrading the bleachers from wood to aluminum, and removing the north end zone for a new training facility, the stadium is as it was 67 years ago.
“Some of our fans harken back to the day when they were five, six years old, coming to a game here, and now they’ve got grandkids that they’re bringing to games here,” Bucher said. “Not much has changed.”
Along with hosting the Super Bowl, Rice Stadium was also home to the Houston Oilers in the 1960s.
High school state championships were also played at the stadium and it provided the stage for one of John F. Kennedy’s most famous speeches.
“I think it’s important to the city,” Bucher said of the stadium. “I think it’s important to Rice University as a whole. I think it’s why it sits the way it does today, [why] it hasn’t been renovated like you’ve seen a lot of other places do. That the history is important. Not only to the university but to the city.”
And to bring things full circle, Rice University is hosting the Atlanta Falcons this week as they prepare for Sunday’s matchup against the Patriots.