Soccer fans in Houston have three main choices for watching the Dynamo play on the road -- the official watch party or one of the viewing parties held by the two fan clubs: the Texian Army or El Battallon.
What's a fan to do? We're here to help. We're going to rate and review each of the parties, using the best evidence available, or whatever else we come up with. Today: The official viewing party.
Some of the fondest memories I have of my dad are the times we spent together at the local watering hole. Not as an adult, but as a kid, we'd go to watch boxing fights or soccer matches that were on pay-per-view or closed circuit television (of course, we'd go to bars that favored our team).
He'd have a Miller Lite, I'd have a root beer; he'd watch the game, I'd watch the waitresses. All-in-all, we had some great times.
During road games, the Houston Dynamo hold viewing parties so other dads can take their boys out for some father-son time. The Dynamo throw their family-friendly soirees at local Hooter's restaurants around the Houston area (hmmm). And emceeing the event is the Dynamo Street Team.
"The purpose of the street team is to get the Dynamo brand out in the community," Diddy Saini, Street Team Coordinator, tells Hair Balls. "The way to refer to our street team is 'the everyday face of the Dynamo.' They're the first ones you see arrive to the stadium and the last ones to leave."
The Street Team come to these viewing parties packing heat too. They bring the lovely Dynamo Girls to add flair, and they employ the services of their mascot, Diesel (who would easily win a street fight against Junction Jack and Clutch). To rub it in the faces of Texans and Astros' fans, they also bring some hardware that neither of those teams have, championship trophies.
Along with watching the game, the Street Team gets on the PA and tries to pump up the crowd. During half-time, they have give-aways and prizes for people wearing orange. I myself got a Stuart Holden bobblehead, which I'll proudly display at my intern's cubicle.
The cool thing about the Dynamo's viewing parties is that if you're one of those people who likes to see pictures of yourself, the Dynamo will post them online. According to Saini, they post photos of the event on their Twitter, Facebook, and their social site, MyDynamo.net.
Now comes the time to grade the party. I'll judge the viewing on three criteria: drinks, atmosphere, and bonus perks.
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DRINKS: The event was held at the Hooters in Spring on a Sunday afternoon. Although Hooters had domestic bottles for $2, they didn't have any drink specials for the game. Other than bottles, they did have your usual beers on tap, and if you at least have Shiner Bock, I'm a happy camper. Grade: B
ATMOSPHERE: The Dynamo aimed at providing a family-style atmosphere similar to game day. The crowd was a pleasant mixture of young and older folks, the same as the crowds at Robertson Stadium. During the first half, the crowd was pretty quiet, although the game's slow and uninspired pace was mostly the reason, much like the Texans game a couple of hours before. The Street Team and the Dynamo Girls gave out prizes at half time, such as tickets, autographed balls, and bobbleheads. As the Dynamo came to life in the second, so did the crowd. The goal by Cam Weaver in the second half had the place rocking, only to be killed by a bogus penalty in favor of Columbus in stoppage time. After that dreadful first half, the place had a better vibe. Grade: B (Bonus Perks: Dynamo Girls, Hooters Girls. Need I say more. Grade: A)
OVERALL: Although not as electric as those times I spent with my old man, the Dynamo were great hosts. With this being only their second year running these road viewing parties, they put on a good show. These parties, once the Dynamo get their own downtown stadium, will be rockin' in a bar next to the stadium. For now... Grade: B+
Check out Part Two of the Dynamo viewing parties on Thursday, September 17, as I hang out with the Texian Army at The Mezzanine.